Depression and the Seasons

5 Sep 2022
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A lot has been written about SAD (Seasonal Affective disorder) in recent years. My old GP was convinced that it’s a serious issue for a large proportion of people suffering from depression – do you agree? She told me that many of her patients benefitted from a 50% increase in antidepressants over the darker months of the year, and advised me to always wait until Spring before cutting down or giving up the SSRI pills.

 

This makes sense, but I don’t think SAD actually explains my ups and downs very well at all. The “festive period” is always a difficult time for me – all the  forced jollity, parties I don’t want to go to, jam packed pubs and restaurants, and, above all, ghastly memories of endless family rows over Xmas years ago;  I bet I’m far from alone in this. But the other most difficult time of the year for me is around August, when  a lot of the regular things that give my life some structure (especially in retirement) stop – adult education classes, meetings of local music clubs. Regular talks, charity fundraising committee meetings, some exercise classes – and my diary looks worryingly empty. I’m just not good at doing nothing, and I seem to have an inherent need for structure in my life.   

 

Does this chime with anyone else?”

 

Oldie But Goldie

A Moodscope member.

A Moodscope member.

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Comments

Paul

Sept. 6, 2022, 4:37 a.m.

Thanks for today’s very interesting blog right up my street, I think your doc is correct SAD is a big problem. I try to get out on the brightest of dark winter days, I also have a light lamp not sure if it helps. Tend to watch more tv in winter which can lower your mood especially the news. I try to limit how much news overload I get. I too dread Christmas bah humbug everyone is stressed and the build up is ridiculously long. Most people have lost sight of what Christmas is about. Also I think Structure and connection with other folk is paramount for people with our conditions. Paul

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The Gardener

Sept. 6, 2022, 8:25 a.m.

Paul, find role TV plays in ones life interesting. Ever since I first saw it (early 50's) I have to guard against addiction. It mesmeries me, does not matter if it is stuff I hate (game shows, Eastenders) if it is on I will watch it. With my breakfast I look at French and UK programmes and decide what I will watch. Netflix has proved super, found some super films (Two Popes, life of Richard Burton) very good. But I HAVE to be selective, sit in front of it all day otherwise. Thanks

The Gardener

Sept. 6, 2022, 8:32 a.m.

PS Paul, the news. Watched Simon Reeve in California - wicked what they are doing, and the poverty! Then caught the beginning of a documentary on new Brazilian president, absolutely terrifying as I am doing a course on climate change at same time.

Teg

Sept. 6, 2022, 6:50 a.m.

Hi OBG Yes it resonates with me. Many years ago I would always dip towards the end of August. I think it was the realisation that another summer was passing. In recent years this has not been so pronounced. I think it is knowing that the beautiful colours of Autumn are near and to be enjoyed. Every season brings it's own joys. However I am anticipating a slight down at the end of September when the bowling green closes until next April. This sport with all my colleagues has been a large part of my life over the summer months. But Moodscope continues! Thanks for raising this interesting subject. Txx

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the room above the garage

Sept. 6, 2022, 6:56 a.m.

Agree. My mood lowers as the days shorten, I love a little garden bench time morning and evening and that disappears. Structure is a double edged sword for me, I get tired of the constant demand on the clock but it definitely helps me to function if I have a solid structure. There is a sweet spot in between I’m sure. Christmas bleurgh, I try to find gentle ways to enjoy it and block out the rest, but it’s hard because it’s everywhere. For me, preparing myself for each season helps. Looking ahead and planning how to navigate the worst parts gives me a cushion. Thank you for todays blog.

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The Gardener

Sept. 6, 2022, 7:26 a.m.

OBG, this chimes with me like the 'boing' of Big Ben.In full active life, business, family I would feel awful from beginning of November. I had a marvellous GP (still great friends, both in 80's). He would run thorough tests, find, as we thought, nothing wrong with me. But he said 'You should not look like this'. I was colourless, inside and out. He would lay his hand beside mine, his was pink, mine was white. I try to 'pack winter full' with what going away I can do (the ultimate answer). Remember a cartoon from long ago, 'ANTON' I believe. A large lady, mink coat and hat, is buying a box of matches from a man in old clothes, on a street corner. He coughs. She: 'I should winter abroad if I were you, with that cough'.

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Lance

Sept. 7, 2022, 1:26 a.m.

I do wish I could "Winter in summer." Moving to this desert was a slow but successful financial coup that has completely robbed me of a decent relationship and a previously playful mindset. It was not my active decision as I just didn't speak up for myself. I don't know if this was an endeavor that I can recover from. There is no joy in Thisville.

Jul

Sept. 6, 2022, 8:22 a.m.

Good morning OBG. You never know this winter might not be as gloomy as previous winters! But I too hate the cold, very windy and dark months in the UK especially when they last into March/April. But I also know that if I lived in a climate with all year round sunshine, I would long to be back in the UK with the cold, wind and rain (for a bit anyway) SAD exacerbates my generalised anxiety and low moods but I think I'd be stuck with this wherever I lived or what ever situation i found myself in. Some sort of structure is important I agree even if it's a day with "nothing to do". To a large extent routine is important and maybe more important than structure in retirement. You can fit in activities into a routine and if there are none, you have your daily routine to fall back on. Or we could climb mountains, abseil, cross the Atlantic in a sailing boat, take massive life changing risks at 70/80. Jul ***

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The Gardener

Sept. 6, 2022, 8:30 a.m.

Jul, your last sentence, with the encouragement of eldest son contemplating a fairly major 'expedition' this winter. I do not think, hand on heart, that if I could live in a nicer climate (light would be the great thing) I would regret the damp green fields of UK and NW France. I think you live by the sea, even in bad weather light levels are always changing. xx

Jul

Sept. 6, 2022, 8:39 a.m.

The light is wonderful here on the south coast near the English channel Gardener. You are right, light is very important. How exciting to be thinking about a major expedition this winter Gardener. Tell us about! As I frequently say you are one plucky lady. Jul xxxx

The Gardener

Sept. 6, 2022, 9:52 a.m.

Jul, just gone overboard! Booked a studio flat in Bergamo, 50 kms from Milan for month of March. Already got a reply from owner in Italian, to which I have replied in Italian. Having recovered from the wish never to leave home again, now find train to Milan really simple - just need to be more organised on connections! ***

Jul

Sept. 6, 2022, 10:50 a.m.

Oh how wonderful. You'll love the train journey to Milan. Something really special to look forward to! I love Milan. Really really love it. Fantastic. Jul xx

Teg

Sept. 6, 2022, 6:28 p.m.

Hi Jul I am waiting till my 90's before I try any of these activities! Txx

Jul

Sept. 7, 2022, 6:52 a.m.

HAHA. you could plan it now Teg and keep changing your mind until 6 mths before, then press the confirmation key. Jul xx

Liz

Sept. 7, 2022, 7:12 a.m.

How delightful Gardener! x

Orangeblossom

Sept. 6, 2022, 8:39 a.m.

Hi Goldie Oldie, thanks for your thought inspiring blog. I have spent spring & Sumer struggling with my health first shingles & then Covid. As a coping strategy I have written two poems one each for each of these health problems. I have told them to go away but so far they have taken little notice. I have also dipped intoTheSurvival Guide to Life by Bear Grylls. He suggests that we face our fears but do it anyway.’ Working through our pain, anxiety & distress.

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The Gardener

Sept. 6, 2022, 9:55 a.m.

Hello OB, what a pity you have had health issues during such an incredible summer (incredible if you were not trying to earn a living growing things). I like 'face fears but do it anyway'. Just jumped in the deep end (see to Jul above).

Valerie

Sept. 6, 2022, 10:56 a.m.

Hello OBG,I think there is something in the ancient part of the human brain that makes some of us want to hibernate.The next couple of months are,along with Spring,the best times of year for me.After that it's the Christmas hysteria blues,and the horrible dark days. I read once that statistically August has the highest suicide rates in the UK.I would have guessed Christmas/New Year.***

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Liz

Sept. 6, 2022, 2:36 p.m.

Hi OBG... I get SAD and was gifted a lightbox which, shamefully, I have never used. I've switched it on, peered at it, blinked and turned it off. I'm dreading the longer winter months. Got annoyed on Facebook with people hating the hot weather. Up here in the Highland, yes we were treated to some gorgeous days but nothing like the extremes of down South. Lots of people looking forward to the "ber" months. I'm also giving up wine, something I love drinking. Not alcohol altogether but sticking to the odd pint or two. This I am going to struggle with but I must do it for the sake of my health as I have dipped again and am drinking too much. I plan to write a blog on it too. I need stuff to do. I need a room to do it in. I'd like to write a novel over the winter months and paint some pictures. So the room will be a must but I hope to get it sorted in the next few months leading up to it. I hate Christmas. Not the event itself but this ridiculous over-commercialised debacle which gets us all over-eating and drinking. If it stopped tomorrow I wouldn't miss it as it contributes to a low mood, all this enforced jollity. I used to prefer the simple Christmasses I enjoyed as a child which were truly magical, starting on the 1st December with the opening of the advent calender. I have a need for structure too so I get totally what you are saying. Enough to keep one busy, focussed and interested in stuff we enjoy but not so time-driven that you feel like you are back at the 9 to 5. Balance is key. Thanks for your blog which I can accord with very much. x

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Oli

Sept. 6, 2022, 3:21 p.m.

November is novel writing month Liz. Google Nanowrimo if you're not already familiar with it! All the best with sorting out where alcohol sits in your life. x

Lexi

Sept. 6, 2022, 5:58 p.m.

Liz, let me know how it goes with the wine. I have given up drinking it during the week. It is hard but like you I need to do it for my health, and I don't want to get sucked into having a glass at 4pm when it gets dark out. It will be hard but I really want to achieve this small goal for myself (and my waistline) xo

Jul

Sept. 7, 2022, 6:56 a.m.

Hi Lexi I am finding it very difficult not to have a glass of wine at 5ish during the week but like you,I've set myself a weekend only time for alcohol. I don't drink a lot and have natural limit (2 glasses, above which I can't drink any more (strange but good!). I am wondering if I am being too hard on myself. Of course it means I'm not spending money on wine during the week. I know how hard it feels Lexi. Jul xx

Liz

Sept. 7, 2022, 7:14 a.m.

Hi Oli. That's good to hear. I will also google Nanowrimo. Thanks for that. Hi Lex and Jul, I need to do this badly. I am determined. I love real ale and am not going to give up on that but rather really cut down, stop the boozing at home with wine. Wish me luck. Hoping I will be thinner, richer and happier! x

Jul

Sept. 7, 2022, 9:43 a.m.

Hi Liz I was reading yesterday that beer is good for the gut bacteria. All the rage at the moment gut bacteria! I like beer. Apparently one glass day is good for you. I worry it might make me put on weight but it does seem like ti could be the answer to our wine/alcohol worries. Jul xx

Oli

Sept. 6, 2022, 4:14 p.m.

I simply prefer warmth to cold Goldie. I prefer long days of light to long nights. Winter has nice things too but I prefer spring and summer. I wondered if I had something going on with SAD because my mood scores took a small but significant dip around late February but I think I know what that was and I don't think it was SAD. I like my routines but it's all small scale stuff and tends to be stuff I do by myself. Thank you for writing; it's good to think about these things.

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Lexi

Sept. 6, 2022, 6:01 p.m.

I too am apprehensive about the change in the weather and the shorter days. I do love fall and the cooler weather and the color. But the dark at 4pm gets to me. But I signed up for courses and have given up drinking during the week - will be difficult but a must for my mental and physical health - so feeling a bit sanguine. xo

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Teg

Sept. 6, 2022, 6:38 p.m.

Hi Lexi Plenty of apprehension today about the loss of summer and the darker days. But I can guarantee the warmer lighter days will return next year. I have seen it happen more than seventy times! We live in an ever changing environment over which we have no control. All we can do is plan to manage our way through the more difficult conditions. I am already looking forward to the early Spring bulbs! Txx

Lexi

Sept. 6, 2022, 6:48 p.m.

Well said Teg! xo

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