We began last week’s group by watching the black dog video about depression which people found quite a helpful analogy and contained hope. People also liked that in the video, depression was described as being devoid of feeling which felt a more accurate description for some than low feelings.
This group session’s focus was on ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’ (SAD), something that we have looked at before on occasion, and with the seasons changing it was worth looking at again as people get ready for the new autumn season and potentially changing mood and emotional state. SAD is typically defined by symptoms of depression triggered by the season, typically winter (although some people are affected by the change into spring). A change in body clock and reduced access to sunlight as the days grow shorter are some of the main components causing changes in the brains hormones e.g reduced serotonin and melatonin. (More information here)
So as a group we looked at what helped at this time of year. With less and less sunlight and therefore less vitamin D it is good to maximise natural light where possible and this is best done in the morning, when blue light is available from the sun (this light isn’t so helpful to us at night from our screens), so time in the morning sun is helpful. Light boxes are also recommended and there is some evidence that using them can reduce depression. Additional intake of vitamin D may also help, some group members have a spray, but opinion as to whether it helps is so far inconclusive…maybe we will get a better idea tracking this as we go into winter.
For some people at this time of year stress could come crashing in with a overwhelm of ‘the to-do list!’ so the group talked about the importance of being able to relax which would probably ultimately increase productivity if we go at it from a rested place rather than a stressed out place.
Some people found that making a physical or symbolic change in the home helped, like moving the furniture to reflect a change in season, having more curtains drawn and different soft furnishings around.
We also had a chat around what people’s preferred climate would be to live in. This varied from places with very distinct seasons and with a bright winter rather than a grey one, to tropical, to a comfortable 24 degrees to liking Scotland!
People also spoke about how miserable, grey, dreich weather does contribute to feelings of being lonely, so it is important to keep up connections with others at these times.