Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) can affect as many as a third of all people.
Also known as the ‘winter blues’, it is officially recognised by doctors as a medical condition and the Cheshire East Council is urging anyone who is feeling unusually lethargic or depressed this winter to make contact with their GP.
People in the UK are more susceptible to SAD as they experience profound changes in
light levels between the summer and winter.
They also experience periods of dark, gloomy weather, which can reduce the amount of light received and this can have a significant effect on body clocks.
A combination of a change in seasonal light, hectic lifestyles and the periods of darker days and poorer weather can have dramatic effects.
Councillor Janet Clowes, Cabinet member in charge of health and adult social care, said: “Our Spread the Warmth campaign offers a range of information on numerous subjects, including how to get help if people feel they are suffering with depression or lethargy.
“By visiting our website, we can point people in the right direction. Anybody who feels he or she is lacking in energy, is unable to carry out a normal routine or has sleep problems, finds it hard to stay awake during the day or is having disturbed nights should think about speaking to a health professional.”
Health professionals are in a good position to assess the nature and severity of any changes in mood and advise on the best course of action. Often just the opportunity to talk can provide relief and reassurance.
GPs are also in a position to refer people to experienced health care practitioners, counselling colleagues or to Council and voluntary sector services that can help with a range of practical and social problems, which may be contributing to increased anxiety and depression.
Other potential features of SAD include:
• Loss of libido, not interested in physical contact;
• Anxiety, inability to cope;
• Social problems, irritability, not wanting to see people;
• Depression, feelings of gloom and despondency for no apparent reason;
• Craving for carbohydrates and sweet foods, leading to weight gain.
Sean Reynolds, the chair of the Cheshire East Adult Safeguarding Board, said: “It is at times like these that people may be less able to protect themselves or seek help. It is therefore important that we all show more understanding to our partners, parents, friends and neighbours and show extra vigilance and willingness to report any concerns.”