Autumn Equinox: Happy or SAD?

Autumn Equinox - happy or SAD?

According to the astronomical calendar, today, Wednesday 22nd September is the Autumnal Equinox  – the official end of Summer and start of Autumn.

Autumn has always been a favourite season for some of the Dovetail team, the cool crisp air, bright sunny days (hopefully, obligatory snuggly jumpers, woolly hats, autumn walks and cosy pub fires :0). Not forgetting the beautiful changing colours of the trees, crunchy autumnal leaves, conkers, pumpkins, oh  I could go on……

I am a Summer lover and living by the coast now, I confess to feeling a bit smug when the holidaymakers have disappeared and we have the beach to ourselves!

I like the seasons to be seasons – none of this blurring of the boundaries that we seem to be getting. (Where exactly was summer this year?!) Fingers crossed we’ll get a proper Autumn after this Autumn Equinox.

So, let’s try to embrace Autumn, as sadly many of us struggle with the change of seasons, with as many as 1 in 3 now suffering from SAD.  So what is SAD, how does it affect us and what we can do to combat the effects?

What is SAD?

The NHS definition:
“Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern.
SAD is sometimes known as “winter depression” because the symptoms are more apparent and tend to be more severe during the winter.
The symptoms often begin in the autumn as the days start getting shorter. They’re typically most severe during December, January and February.
SAD often improves and disappears in the spring and summer, although it may return each autumn and winter in a repetitive pattern.”

The cause of SAD is ‘lack of sunlight’, darker days literally cause a darker mood for many of us.

  “…some people experience a serious mood change when the seasons change. They may sleep too much, [may] have little energy, and may also feel depressed. Though symptoms can be severe, they usually clear up.” (wiki)

Here are a few pointers on how to deal with the affects of SAD:

  • Get as much sunlight as you can –if you’re office based, step away from your computer and get outside for a lunchtime walk.  You could even change your journey to and from work to maxmise your exposure to the elements.
  • Increase your exercise – increase your happiness levels by getting your circulation going – cycle to work, join a gym class or go for a run, even a brisk walk.
  • Light therapy – a special lamp called a light box is used to simulate exposure to sunlight. Blue boxes are available to buy for approximately £100. Find out about the benefits of a blue light

Medical treatment options are:

  • talking therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or counselling
  • antidepressant medication, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)

Hopefully this Autumn Equinox, you will be able to off-set those SAD symptoms and get to enjoy the beautiful autumnal colours and activities.

To find out more about SAD and the help that is available, please visit NHS.

Mental Health Org

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