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Get a respite from SAD

With the days drawing in and the weather being much colder, the message is clear: winter is upon us. Are you feeling tired, demotivated, and finding it hard to concentrate or sleep? Perhaps you are suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and while this is not an agreeable state to be in, it is not an uncommon situation.

So, what is SAD?

Seasonal affective disorder is a form of depression also known as seasonal depression or winter depression. People with SAD may have mood changes and symptoms similar to those of depression. Symptoms usually appear in the autumn and winter, when sunshine is lacking, and usually ease off with the return of spring.

Symptoms and diagnosis

The most common symptoms of SAD are fatigue and weight gain associated with overeating and cravings for carbohydrates.

Symptoms of SAD can range from mild to severe and include those similar to major depression, such as:

  • Feeling sad, depressed, or irritable.

  • Marked loss of interest or enjoyment in previously popular and social activities.

  • Change in appetite. SAD may cause cravings for carbohydrates and comfort food.

  • Change in sleep patterns, such as sleeping more than usual.

  • Loss of energy or increased fatigue, despite increased hours of sleep. SAD may lead to a lack of motivation to do things.

  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions.

  • Negative thoughts, which in extreme, can lead to thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts.

If you think you have severe symptoms of SAD, please consult your healthcare provider as soon as possible.


Seasonal depression can be treated effectively through light therapy, talk therapy, antidepressant medications, or a combination of these methods. While symptoms usually improve on their own with the change of seasons, they may be relieved more quickly with treatment.

Natural approach

In a 2012 article in Vanguard, Mr Moses Ndubuisi Nwakanma, a botanist, geneticist and environmental biologist, and lecturer in the Department of Biological Science, Yaba College of Technology, in Lagos Nigeria, stated that Vernonia amygdalina, also known as bitter leaf, may alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. This seems to be reinforced by a 2016 study from Onasanwo SA, Aitokhuehi NG and Faborode SO of the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, which also found that Vernonia amygdalina demonstrates significant antidepressant-like effects.

To beat SAD, consider:

  • increasing your outdoor activities to get as much light as possible.

  • taking a break, going on holiday now that more destinations are open to double vaccinated people.

  • taking vitamin D. Vitamin D can be found in oily fish, such as salmon, sardines, herring, and mackerel; red meat; liver, and egg yolk.

  • reducing your alcohol consumption.

And remember, be kind to yourself – everyone needs a respite.


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