’ It’s getting dark at 4pm now!!’’ 

S.A.D is short for ‘seasonal affective disorder’ and is more commonly known as ‘seasonal depression’. The NHS website describes it as ‘linked to reduced exposure to sunlight during the shorter autumn and winter days. Without an official diagnosis, so many of us take no pleasure in the fact that the days feel darker and shorter, and we get more tired and less happy, but is it something that we should be used to? 

Well, some of the symptoms are a persistent low mood, a loss of pleasure in everyday activities, feeling tired and sleeping longer than usual and feeling despair, guilt or worthlessness, The NHS website attributes this to the lack of sun negatively affecting the hypothalamus, the part in our brain responsible for our serotonin and melatonin levels. These may seem like normal symptoms that most people go through, however, if gone unchecked it can lead to serious mental illness that can develop and be of harm to someone's life. 

But if it can dangerous, is it that common? Out of a survey of 50 16–18-year Olds, 67% picked yes to feeling as though they had seasonal depression, and many went on to say that they felt ‘tired and isolated’ or ‘hopeless’. ‘As everything gets really cold, I feel grey and monotonous inside, but I try to stay warm and take care of myself as best I can’ said one participant when asked how they cope with their seasonal depression. Many also said that they stay in the sun as much as possible and invest themselves in minimal but gratifying activities like a movie, a warm drink and long train rides. However, others say that they don’t think they cope per se, but just try to be true to their feelings without letting them swallow them completely, for example, writing them down, or talking to a loved one about their feelings. 

Whatever you do, prioritising your mental health this winter is greatly important, and regardless of a diagnosis, your feelings towards the weather are valid. British weather is a known force to be reckoned with so do not be hard on yourself and wrap up!