It’s normal to feel a little bit blue when winter rolls around. Short days, long nights, cold weather and the flat feeling that follows a packed festive period all conspire to lower moods and make winter a miserable time of year.
But for some people, the season signals a much more serious problem – they suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression that is linked to a particular season.
Understanding seasonal affective disorder
This condition is characterised by a reoccurring depression that manifests around the same kind of time every year. It’s more common for SAD sufferers to experience symptoms during autumn and winter but some people struggle during the warmer months and fall into what is often called a ‘summer depression’.
While SAD is a widely recognised condition, there’s still no definitive explanation. Many scientists think that is has something to do with the kind of hormone changes that are triggered by a shift in season. Some also suggest that a lack of sunlight during the darker months can have an affect on serotonin levels in the brain, a chemical linked to mood regulation.