Its winter, it’s dark, everything feels dull, doom and gloom. You get lazy, you want to stay in your warm bed all day, you feel de-motivated to do anything but at the same time your conscious is telling you to get up and do that little bit of work you really have to finish. You get stressed and worried over this conflict in your head, between lying in bed and actually doing something – and the cycle goes on. Sometimes each cycle includes lots of chocolate, junk food and endless hours of watching TV (I know it does for me). You are not alone! So, I bring this article to you, to those who are participating in this zombie-like behaviour, and above all to those who have SAD, seasonal affective disorder.
What is SAD?
(AKA Winter Depression)
Seasonal Affective Disorder is exactly what it says on the tin, SAD is a type of depression that correlates with the seasons, and unfortunately it occurs during the same seasons every year. Having an uplifting spring, and a brilliant summer, to then have to brace the bitter darkness of winter, it really puts a damper on the mind, the body and the soul. Anyone can experience SAD, but it is more common in:
- People who live far away from the equator (where winter daylight hours are short)
- People between the ages of 15-55
- Those who have a relative that has SAD.
The symptoms include:
- Feeling down, grumpy, moody or anxious
- Feeling lethargic and losing an interest in your usual activities
- Eating more (especially carbs), leading to undesired weight gain
- Sleeping more yet feeling tired
- Having increased trouble concentrating.
However, you’re not the only one! 12-13% of people experience winter blues and 3-6% are thought to experience SAD (UK and Ireland), and the causes of this disorder are not exactly concrete but it has been found that SAD occurs due to the lack of sunlight the individual receives (which explains why countries away from the equator line are more likely to suffer!). The reduced amount of sunlight prevents messages being sent to nerve cells – which affect the balance of brain chemicals, such as serotonin and melatonin. These special chemicals help us to maintain our mood, and so without them, we function well, and a less than normal amount in our amazing brains can trigger depression.
The SAD symptoms start when the days become shorter, around October time, so this is when everyone has great difficulty waking up in the mornings and end up running around their room like a maniac 15 minutes before they leave the house. Thereafter the symptoms gradually increase and SAD is at its peak from November – January, until they start to decrease throughout February (which is when we start dreaming about summer!).
It is still January!
It’s very easy to just accept your state in the present and rustle up the mentality “only a few more months to go until I start to feel better”, however any type of depression, like SAD can become very difficult and irritating to live with – you just want to get on with life, but you simply can’t bring yourself to do it, but it can be successfully treated. ‘Light therapy’ is the main way that GP’s will recommend treating SAD, it involves sitting next to a light (these lights can come in many forms e.g desk lamps or wall lights) which produce a very bright light to help those chemicals get going. Other therapies include cognitive behavioural therapy, and some may prescribe antidepressants – but your GP will recommend the most suitable type of therapy for you. Although these therapies have been proven to be successful, there is a much more effective therapy and a more comprehensive perspective of SAD out there, which is probably much closer to home…
SAD is forever
Having SAD or the winter blues can often feel like it is taking forever and sucking all the energy out of you – however, just like the worldly things, SAD is temporary, it comes and goes like the seasons do, but Allah is the Only One that remains constant to us. The One who never disappears, He is Eternal, and Most Compassionate. We have to first understand that Allah is the one who makes us sad and happy, and causes these emotions –
“And that He it is who makes (whom He wills) laugh and makes (whom He wills) weep”
Emotions are not simple, they are a complex subject, and as humans, there is a very limited amount of information we have about ourselves compared to The Almighty, and although sometimes we may be able to figure out what is bothering us, or why we are upset, we have to know that in reality, Allah Knows Best, and it is with Him that the correct answers lie. We have to take comfort and really appreciate this concept, that although we may be confused with ourselves, Allah has us all figured out, so don’t worry if you feel like nobody understands what you’re going through, Allah does!