For some, it's merely a fleeting sense of melancholy brought on by the cold weather and short days. Yet, for others, this seasonal change can signify something far more profound.

According to the HSE, 7% of Irish individuals grapple with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), with winter being its prevalent season.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), as described by clinical psychologist Dr. Anne Kehoe, is a specific subtype of depression, a condition many are already familiar with.

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Speaking on Newstalks Lunchtime Live she said: “What SAD means is that there’s a seasonal pattern to the depressive symptoms."

“So, all the things you’d normally associate with feeling down and depressed happen to people when the seasons change - particularly this time of year when we come into winter”

During this time, the diminishing daylight and the onset of wet weather discourage people from engaging in outdoor activities, impacting both exercise routines and social interactions.

She said: “Most people suffer from some kind of low feeling about the idea that you can’t do the same things”

“Going for a walk at 7pm in the dark is different to a walk on a beautiful summer’s evening.”

The HSE advises anyone suspecting they might have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) to consult their general practitioner (GP).

Dr. Kehoe emphasised the importance of seeking assistance without self-blame, stating: "It’s okay to get help for that"

“It’s not your fault, it’s not that you’re just too unmotivated if you really, really can’t [do things].

“But I think just trying to keep in touch with what you do and what makes you feel good is really important - if you can."

"What makes you feel good is really important - if you can"
"What makes you feel good is really important - if you can"

She further stressed the significance of staying connected to activities that bring joy, acknowledging that this effort is crucial, if possible.

However, if such efforts prove challenging, reaching out for additional support is essential. Dr. Kehoe suggested various avenues for help, including therapy or consulting a GP.

She also noted ongoing research exploring the impact of Vitamin D and other factors on mood and overall mental well-being adding: "There’s some research on Vitamin D and all the kinds of other things that would impact your mood healthwise.”

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