Tag Archives: Anxiety

Think You Might Be Suffering From Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Now that we’re into 2021 and the initial enthusiasm of New Year resolutions (if you made any) has started to wear off, many people are filled with dread.Why? –  because they know that their symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD (sometimes called “Winter Blues”) will really kick in, if they didn’t start in November when the clocks went back.

If you hate the long winter evenings, feel exhausted, depressed and anxious and feel that hibernation would be preferable, you could be a sufferer.  Most of us are affected to some extent by the changes in light, as well as craving stodgier comfort foods but for some people the longer, dark nights have far more of an effect.

For these people, feeling very low in mood, having negative thoughts and feelings also resul in a loss of self-esteem. Rather than just feel lethargic, they feel extreme fatigue to such an extent that they have an almost irresistible urge to sleep for several hours during the day. Their feelings of tension increase and their ability to deal with stress decreases.

Other symptoms may include increased irritability and a reduced interest in sex and physical contact.

SAD can begin at any age and may be triggered by other factors such as a change in environment, childbirth or illness. It occurs throughout the northern and southern hemispheres but is rare within 30 degrees of the equator.

The theory is that lack of sunlight may stop a part of the brain called the hypothalamus working properly which may affect the production of melatonin (a hormone that makes you feel sleepy; in people with SAD, the body may produce it in higher levels); the production of serotonin which is another hormone that affects your mood, appetite and sleep; a lack of sunlight may lead to lower serotonin levels; when the hypothalamus isn’t working properly it also affects the body’s internal clock (circadian rhythm) and this impacts on various functions such as when you wake up. The lower light levels in winter may disrupt your body clock and lead to the symptoms above.

Most sufferers find that their symptoms improve and then disappear during the spring and summer, only to return again in the autumn and winter in a repetitive pattern. It may be that some people are more susceptible than others to SAD.

If you find that you’re experiencing the above symptoms, you should consider seeing your GP if you’re struggling to cope. You may be asked about your lifestyle, eating and sleeping patterns, and any change in mood or behaviour. Your GP will then recommend the most suitable treatment option for you, based on the nature and severity of your symptoms. A combination of treatments may be used to get the best results.

A number of treatments are available for SAD including cognitive behavioural therapy, antidepressants, lifestyle measures and light therapy.

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) has been found to be helpful in treating SAD symptoms. CBT is based on the idea that we way we think and behave affects the way we feel. Changing the way you think about situations and what you can do about them can help you to feel better.
  • Antidepressant medication may be prescribed – these are usually selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
  • Lifestyle measures such as getting as much natural sunlight as possible (a short walk at lunchtime can help), managing stress and exercising regularly may well be helpful.
  • Light therapy – a special lamp called a light box is used to simulate exposure to sunlight. This involves sitting by a special lamp called a light box, usually for around 30 minutes each morning. The Seasonal Affective Disorder Association (SADA) have specific guidelines for light boxes which may help. The recommended light boxes have filters to remove harmful ultraviolet rays.

The things that you can try for yourself include the lifestyle measures above, making your work and home environments as light and airy as possible as well as sitting near windows when you’re indoors. Eat a balanced diet, even though it’s tempting to eat a lot of carbohydrates.

By recognising the symptoms associated with SAD it is possible to then access treatment and hopefully this will help to alleviate the worst effects so that you can look forward to the remaining winter months without trepidation.

Please do comment on my blog if you have found it interesting, useful or otherwise. You can see my blogs as soon as they are published (usually on Wednesdays) by pressing the ‘follow’ button and you can share them with your friends. You can also find me on Linked In, Instagram (samebutdifferent) and read my FB posts at Same But Different.

Do You Sometimes Feel That You’re Being Judged?

Feeling judged?

A judgmental person is usually describes someone who judges others, often without good reason – it’s almost always negative. As well as hurting other people’s feelings, even when that isn’t necessarily meant in a harmful way, being judgmental about others people can affect your own self-esteem and happiness.

As you may have found, judgmental people are everywhere! You might even be one of them without even realising it. But, if you’re the one feeling judged, how can you deal with it so that it doesn’t drag you down? Here are a few ideas:

  • Try to look at it as a life lesson. View every interaction with a judgmental person as a bit of a ‘test’ that you’re going to try to pass. You can either respond with negativity, attack them back or choose a positive response. By that I mean, try to turn around what they said and give it a positive spin.
  • Be compassionate. People aren’t born judgmental so something will have happened to them to make them like that. Maybe their family judged them along with everything else and it’s the only way they know. It doesn’t make their behaviour any better but you may be able to find a bit of empathy for them. As the Dalai Lama said “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion”.
  • Most of us find this pretty difficult and assume that someone’s doing or saying something because of us. However, highly judgmental people find fault with everyone (and everything!), especially themselves. They always behave like this, whatever the circumstances. If you protect yourself against the opinions and actions of other people, you won’t suffer unnecessarily.
  • Look beyond what is the obvious and, as I said earlier, most judgmental people are very critical of themselves. Often, what they’re saying about you or someone else is a reflection of how they feel about themselves. Try to remember that when they’re making a judgmental comment about you or someone else.
  • Look upon them as children – if you can do that, you can extend it to not expecting them (children) to know everything and tolerating bad behaviour. Of course, we think that once a person’s an adult they should know better, having worked a lot of things out. However, many adults don’t really “get it” so if you can think of them as a child who’s still learning and growing, it will be easier to be more compassionate.
  • Maybe someone in your family is particularly judgmental of you – obviously that’s difficult but try to put their behaviour into context and try to find some positives in the situation (not easy, I know!) but if you try to focus on other family members who value you, that will help.
  • Remember, you don’t have to believe them. Just because someone judges you, doesn’t mean that what they’re saying is right or true! Most of these judgements are someone else’s opinion – they take pleasure in dragging someone else down but that doesn’t mean that you have to take their ideas on board!
  • Finally, focus your attention on the other people who support and love you. If you can avoid or remove the judgmental person from your life, all well and good. But if it’s a family member or your boss, try to put some distance between you when possible. Surround yourself with people who love you and want what’s best for yo

Please do comment on my blog if you have found it interesting, useful or otherwise. You can see my blogs as soon as they are published (usually on Wednesdays) by pressing the ‘follow’ button and you can share them with your friends. You can also find me on Linked In, Instagram (samebutdifferent) and read my FB posts at Same But Different.