Barbs is my older sister and is an NCA – nurturing career auntie. She suffers from a disorder called S.A.D, so I asked her to share her experience with you as it’s a commonly misconceived health problem that doesn’t get the air time that it deserves.
Over to you Barbs…
Initially I was daunted by my sisters request for a post on S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder) but I’ve decided to go ahead and see what you think anyway…
There are many assumptions about S.A.D – the main being that it is an excuse for malaise during crappy weather. Ho hum, if only is was that simple! Clinically it is characterised by any number of the following symptoms: Depression, lack of energy,sleep problems,loss of concentration, loss of libido, social problems, anxiety, over eating, and mood changes. These symptoms sometimes begin as early as September and can last as late as April! But often begin in December and last through to February….
Listing it down is easy enough, but not easy to experience or accept – so my deepest sympathies for those who know where I’m coming from, even if experience is third hand! On the up side of course is that knowledge does help, knowing that you are not alone and that the symptoms will go away is paramount. AND IT DOES GO!! REMEMBER THAT!! Support and practical advise has no price on its head… but these days this can be achieved through talking to others – lets face it even the best can feel down right low when the days are short and the weather is cold and foggy. Anyway there are solutions – hurrah….! (Being a sufferer I have tried a few, so here we go..)
a) Light Therapy, sounds expensive but isn’t. Basically you can buy electrical units which radiate natural light or in my case being a bit savvy I went to a needlework shop and purchased a daylight bulb. Basically to cut the jargon, these are bulbs that give natural light for seeing colours as they would be in natural light so not only good for needlework, art and jigsaws (sorry yes I like these too – please don’t judge me to harshly!) but are excellent for S.A.D. Lol when I bought my first one I made up all the excuses under the sun (oopps pardon the pun?) why I wanted it – apart from the REAL reason. But after I had spun an elaborate lie, the owners of the shop admitted to me that they had a high percentage of customers who required them for depression… nervously I reassured them that I was an artist (…ummm ), anyway eager to give it a try I paid my £9.99 and left. Yes I know an expensive light bulb, but I swear it works and my bulb has lasted me two years to date.
b) Medication. I can feel the shudders from here but in some cases it is necessary; I had this route before I tried the daylight bulb and I recommend trying the latter first… am I rambling? Sorry. Anyway, if all else fails this is what your GP might and only might suggest; if this is the case don’t beat yourself up about it, if it works for you it is no one else’s business but yours. Lol I have been there too and have the cap, t’ shirt and so on. Having done a psychology degree years ago and then suffered with this and then spoken to sooo many people, (as you do), I’ve decided that there are so many people out there with issues of one nature or another, that meds for depression is ‘yes’ not to be taken lightly, but on the other hand does not condemn you to years of being the local looney – far from it.
c) Alternative therapies, which can be useful. Don’t knock them – specifically counselling. Psychotherapy is reputedly good too.
d) Talking! Deviation through conversation can be perhaps temporary but not to be dismissed. The same applies to watching a bit of shitty tv for a bit.
Campaign for Lightning Evenings in the UK – Single Double Summer Time
There is currently a campaign for lighter evenings that would put the clocks one hour ahead of GMT in winter and two hours ahead of GMT in summer – which would help us S.A.D suffers greatly, not to mention reducing the number of people killed and injured on the roads – which is the key aim behind Royal Society for Prevention of Accident’s campaign. The most recent research found that a move to SDST could reduce road deaths by around 80 per year and serious injuries by around 212 per year. To support this campaign click here http://www.rospa.com/about/currentcampaigns/lighter-evenings/
In the UK, it is thought that SAD affects between 4-6% of people. It tends to affect mainly younger people, especially those in their twenties. Depression in general affects twice as many women as men. This figure is likely to be the same for SAD.