Wednesday 23 October 2019

Seasonal Affective Disorder – beginning to prepare for winter

Emily shares her experience with Seasonal Affective Disorder whilst encouraging others they are not alone.
- Emily Maybanks

For many people, the idea of autumn and winter brings with it cosy nights in, warming up with hot chocolate, the fun of Halloween, Bonfire Night and anticipation for Christmas. As the days get shorter and the nights get longer, it is important to realise that there are many people who suffer with winter depression or, as its medically termed, ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’ (SAD). For those who may not be familiar with SAD, it is a type of depression that you experience during particular seasons or times of year. It is commonly known as ‘winter depression’ as most people who are affected seem to suffer during this time, however many also suffer from SAD during the summer months too. 

My experiences of SAD began before I started university and was triggered by a traumatic event. Every year, I try to find more ways to manage it or make it easier for me to deal with, however it isn’t always easy. Some of the symptoms which hit me particularly hard each winter are a distinct lack of energy (not helped by the fact I also suffer from hypothyroidism), a difficulty concentrating or focusing on things, sleep problems (I find that I oversleep in the winter) as well as feeling tearful, low and hopeless. 

I have, however, found certain things that have personally helped me to cope with SAD. I try to take time out for myself each week to do something I love and something that relaxes me. For the most part writing helps me to express myself and manage my depression and anxiety. I also find it helps to get out for a walk during the day, even if it’s just a short walk. At university, I liked to walk along the beach while I was studying in Swansea. Since returning home after graduating, I have found that joining karate and a fitness class has really helped. I also try to maintain a healthy diet because when winter hits I find it very tempting to overeat or eat unhealthily. 

Sometimes those who suffer with SAD might feel as though they are on their own, which is understandable. However, sharing your experiences can help you to feel less alone and find people who can empathise and support you. 

My name is Emily (Em). In 2018, I graduated from Swansea University with my BA degree in Modern Languages, Translation & Interpreting; I was also passionate about and dedicated to Swansea Student Media and the University students’ newspaper – Waterfront. I am now an aspiring MFL or English Teacher and aim to undertake a PGCE course next year. I currently volunteer for Hospital Radio in Reading. I blog for Student Minds because I have experienced mental health issues as a student and also now as a graduate, as well as other health issues, and I support friends who also have mental health difficulties. I am a passionate writer and writing has been important in my mental health experiences – both in helping me to explore and to cope with my mental health, as well as sharing my story in order to help others.

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