When summer fades: Tips to manage Seasonal Affective Disorder

The last dregs of summer have all but disappeared. On-and-off downpours and a drop in the mercury might be making Kiwis feel a little bit blue.

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While it can strike any time of the year, autumn and winter are often the hardest. Source: Seven Sharp

But as we brace for the chilly months ahead, bear in mind it'll hit some of us harder than others.

Feeling the winter blues is one thing, but full-on Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is another entirely.

Clinical psychologist Rajna Bogdanovic told Seven Sharp a lot of people get the winter blues.

‘This is completely normal to some extent- it’s really not that fun to go to work and come home in the dark, and be stuck in an office or at home all day,” she said.

Bogdanovic says the proportions of those who experience the winter blues are about 0.5-1 per cent but in some countries it can be up to six per cent.

When a diagnoses of SAD is made, it means “these symptoms are so bad that they really struggle to function from day to day,” she says.

Symptoms of SAD can include increased sleeping but still feeling tired upon waking, craving sweets and carbs, low energy levels, wanting to isolate socially, trouble concentrating and feeling sad, irritable or anxious, she explains. 

Bogdanovic says there are some ways to help combat SAD, as long as symptoms are mild.

“Increasing exposure to natural light - sit next to a window at home or in the office and go for a walk during your lunch break or after work if you can,” she says.

She also suggests light therapy, maintaining a healthy diet, good sleep routine and regular exercise as well as vitamin D supplements if needed.

“If it’s more severe or impacting you daily in your work or home go talk to your GP and have a chat, they may prescribe talking therapy or counselling or a prescription for antidepressants.”