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Seasonal Affective Disorder: Not Just the "Winter Blues".

The clocks have gone back, the trees are changing colour and Christmas is around the corner 🎄Unfortunately for some people this is the season of "SAD": Seasonal Affective Disorder.

What is SAD?

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that has a seasonal pattern. The cause of this disorder is not fully understood although it is thought that it may be linked to reduced exposure to sunlight during the shorter days of the year. Symptoms of SAD vary, but they mainly consist of the following:

  • Sleep issues: too much and/or disruptions

  • Energy loss, fatigue

  • Anxiety

  • Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness and guilt

  • Inability to think clearly and concentrate

  • Loss of libido

  • Depressive mood

  • Loss of pleasure or interest in daily activities

  • Changes in appetite, cravings or weight.

How can SAD affect you? A lack of light affects the levels of two important chemicals that are produced by our brains: Melatonin and Serotonin.

Melatonin is produced when it gets dark and makes you sleepy – it is how your body knows it is night time and that we should go to sleep. With longer nights and increased periods of darkness in the Autumn and Winter, you produce more Melatonin which makes you feel drowsy and encourages you to sleep more. People who suffer with SAD produce much higher than normal levels of this hormone.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter responsible for maintaining a healthy state of mind. Sunlight affects the production of Serotonin, so as the days get shorter, we start producing less of it. Serotonin helps you feel motivated, enthusiastic, happy and in control of our life and has a big effect on your mood and behaviour. It also has an effect on your appetite, sleep pattern, memory and learning ability. People with SAD produce much lower than average Serotonin levels.

How can hypnotherapy help to relieve symptoms of SAD?

Research has shown that hypnotherapy can be a very effective treatment for SAD. It can help alleviate symptoms effectively by stimulating the release of Serotonin through the use of positive suggestion, guided visualisation and techniques that enable people to reframe negative thoughts. It can create a fabulous sense of well-being, happiness and content state of mind. In doing so, it can help to counteract symptoms of SAD.

Your brain has a tendency to refer to previous patterns of behaviour which is important for your survival but is not always helpful in non-life threatening situations. Therefore if last winter you became depressed and withdrawn, when the nights start to draw in this year your brain may refer back to this behaviour pattern, decide that it worked (i.e. you survived) and cause you to feel and behave in the exact same way again.

Hypnotherapy works by helping to rewrite the behavioural patterns stored in your brain in a positive way. It can also help to establish a healthier daily routine in those darker months.

Don’t brush off that yearly feeling of being down in the dumps as simply a case of the "winter blues" that you have to tough out on your own.


If you would like to have a chat about how hypnotherapy could help you relieve symptoms caused by SAD, please do get in touch.

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