Dark Got You Down?

November in Scotland is a beast of its own. The days get shorter with the sun escaping in the early afternoon leading to what feels like constant darkness. 

When trying to complete the final deadlines of the semester while also trying to maintain a social life, the darkness can really put a damper on your overall wellbeing leading to depressive like symptoms, what has been deemed as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) by the NHS. SAD comes and goes in a seasonal pattern, but is often known as “winter depression” as symptoms are usually the most severe during the winter months.

Symptoms of SAD may include a persistent low mood, loss of pleasure in everyday activities, feeling of worthlessness, lethargy, and desire for more sleep than usual. The cause of SAD is not yet know, but theories related to hormone production suggest that changes in these levels may be linked to feelings of depression. Melatonin is a hormone that makes you feel sleepy; in people with SAD, the body may produce it in higher than normal levels while serotonin is a hormone that affects your mood, appetite and sleep; a lack of sunlight may lead to lower serotonin levels, which is also linked to feelings of depression.

 SAD may be treated with changes in lifestyle measures- getting more sunlight, exercising regularly, and managing stress levels. Light therapy may also help as it simulates exposure to natural sunlight. In severe cases, antidepressant medications may be prescribed to aid with overwhelming depressive symptoms that are impacting normal life.

Feel like you might be coping with SAD? Take some time for yourself in figuring out what you might need to boost your mood. Maybe take a walk on the beach, order a light therapy lamp from Amazon, or try talking through how you’re feeling with some close friends over coffee in a cozy café. You don’t have to feel alone when dealing with SAD - check out below how 18 people cope with SAD in this Buzzfeed Article

And just remember, the holidays are just around the corner, as is springtime, so your SAD symptoms should fade with the season. In the meantime, take care of yourself.