Seasonal affective disorder- I’ll be there for you

Autumn is a pretty season, with vibrant colours, cozy jumpers and hot drinks, it is the aesthetic part of the colder months at least. 

Although there are many interesting and enjoyable aspects of this time of the year, I want to highlight a subject of great importance and ways to deal with this (and what to avoid).

SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is very similar to depression, though it may not be consistent throughout the year. 

Instead it occurs in connection to specific seasons. 

SAD is most common during cold months, when the days grow shorter and people tend to stay indoors, sheltering from the increasing cold. 

This in turn leads to one of the main causes of SAD; lack of fresh air and Vitamin D.

SAD might also be known, or referred to, as ‘winter’s blues’, and is extremely necessary to acknowledge and treat even though it tends to last only for a few months in comparison to other mental illnesses – which might be consistent throughout the year(s).

Some people may experience different severities of SAD, as it can be affected by gender, age and family history. 

It is more common for women to experience SAD (or milder kinds of winter’s blues), as well as teenagers, young adults and someone with family members who also have similar mental struggles.

There are many ways to deal with this issue, and I am sure you are familiar with the common ones such as exercise, outdoor activities, socialising, and so on. 

These things do help, but hearing the same suggestions multiple times does not. 

Therefore here are some different things as to what you can do and what you should, preferably, avoid;

Listen to podcasts. 

This is a growing media, consisting of everything from motivational to educational, or just plainly entertaining, content, easily accessible and can be enjoyed whilst maybe going for a (clichÈ) walk – thus, multitasking.

Write a journal, maybe not daily, or daily but not long entries. 

Get your thoughts out of your head and down on paper – view them from an outside perspective. 

Even though it might feel as though your mind is empty, usually this is not the case. 

So just write; about your day, what you have seen or heard even if it is just your wall or a picture on Instagram, what were your feelings and reactions to these things?

Have a hot drink, some soup, or if you prefer something cold, then have that. 

Can you share it with someone? Even better! 

Sit next to or in the same room as a friend, there is no need to interact, just sit in silence, their presence alone might ease your mind.

Do stay away from alcohol and extreme amounts of caffeine and sugar, but do not forbid yourself anything you might be craving as these things can be soothing as well. 

Everything bad is good for you, in moderation.

Most importantly, if you feel worse, no matter what you do, reach out ASAP and get professional help. 

There is only so much you, your friends and family can do. 

When mental difficulties occur and when it feels as though you have tried it all and your loved ones are not enough, someone professional whose job is to supply treatment and/or medication is the best solution.

If you are feeling a change in mood during this season (or any) do not neglect it, but treat it with full seriousness as to prevent it from developing. 

Do not be afraid, for no matter how lonely you feel, I promise, you are not alone, I feel lonely too, right now, writing this, so if you need it – I will be there for you, as you might be there for me too.

You can contact student services by calling 01603 592761 or emailing studentsupport@uea.ac.uk. A full list of support services available can be found here.

Alternatively you can contact Samaritans on 116 123 24-hours a day or email jo@samaritans.org

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Leelou Lewis

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July 2022
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The University of East Anglia’s official student newspaper. Concrete is in print and online.

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