For those of you who watch Game of Thrones, you will already know that ‘Winter is coming’, as the characters have been saying it for seasons (of the television variety, as well as the of the calendar kind…)
Christmas lights are up in the streets, and gifts are proudly displayed in stores.
And yet with this change of season can also come a distinct change of mood for some people.
And not into one of the expected Christmas cheer.
According to the NHS, up to 2 million people in the UK are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This condition can impact on someone in a range of ways, but common presentations include feeling unsociable or ‘down’, depression, changes in sleep patterns and quality, decreased energy levels and altered eating habits.
If you notice these symptoms in yourself or others, it may be time to speak to a healthcare professional, including your GP.
For some people, lifestyle changes can help improve how they are feeling. These may include regular exercise, healthy eating and optimising the amount of natural light that they are receiving during the day. Some people find a light box is of benefit. For others, increasing their levels of social connection by spending time with family and friends, joining support groups and or accessing supportive forums can help. For some people, sessions with a healthcare professional may improve how they are feeling.
As with many areas of mental health, being aware of what to look out for in yourself, and in others, is key. With the end of the year drawing near, we can be spending long hours at work in efforts to wrap up projects. This may mean that we may be one of the first people to notice deterioration in the mental health of a co-worker.
Remember that winter can cause different feelings in different people, and that being aware of what to look out for in others and yourself can be of benefit.
And that after the winter comes spring!
Dr Rachel Thomas Clinical Psychologist
Rachel studied Medicine and Surgery at Oxford University, and has completed a Masters in Neuroscience and Psychology of Mental Health at Kings. She completed Biomedical Engineering (Hons 1) and Science degrees at Berkeley and Sydney University.
Rachel is a practising doctor and healthcare innovator, and speaks on the importance of mental health and delivers insight as a doctor. Additionally, Rachel is responsible for content production with Cognacity case studies, blogs and press articles.