However, for some people the start of Winter can bring about a full-blown episode of depression or, as it’s otherwise known, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Seasonal Affective Disorder goes beyond the normal lethargy most of us experience during the colder months. It is a form of clinical depression, that spontaneously ends when spring arrives.
The cause of SAD is not currently known, however it is thought that it may have something to do with decreased exposure to light levels, or circadian rhythms (our internal 24 hour body clock).
Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder
SAD is characterised by a number of symptoms that significantly impair daily functioning. The symptoms usually begin around Autumn and persist for the winter months. Symptoms of seasonal depression include:
- Depressed mood;
- Diminished interest in activities;
- Significant weight loss or gain;
- Fatigue and loss of energy;
- Difficulty concentrating, or indecisiveness;
- Feelings of worthlessness;
- Excessive sleeping or insomnia.
Treating Seasonal Affective Disorder
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) has been shown to be highly effective in the treatment of Winter Depression. This type of therapy has two components: the Behavioural, and the Cognitive.
For the Behavioural component, clients are encouraged to work with their psychologists to increase the number of pleasurable activities they engage in, and increase their sense of purpose and drive.
In the Cognitive component, clients are challenged to identify and change their negative thoughts and beliefs. While this sounds simple, people with depression often lack energy and the will to do anything, so this can be extremely challenging.
Psychologists working with depressed clients frequently take a solution focused and collaborative approach, as it only by working together that long term change can be made successfully.
Author: Ashley Cooper, B Psych (Hons), M Psych (Clinical), MAPS.
Ashley Cooper is a registered psychologist with clinical psychology training, working with children, adolescents and adults. She is passionate about helping individuals to overcome their mental health issues and improve their quality of life.
To make an appointment with Ashley Cooper try Online Booking – Mt Gravatt or call (07) 3088 5422.