Combine almost a full year of the pandemic with dwindling sunlight and dropping temperatures and it’s no surprise that many of us might be feeling a little deflated.
But for one in 15 people in the UK between September and April, such feelings can develop into a mental health condition known as ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’ or SAD.
A type of depression, SAD comes and goes in a seasonal pattern and is sometimes known as the ‘Winter blues’ because symptoms are usually more apparent and severe during winter.
Symptoms can vary, but may include a persistent low mood, irritability, a lack of energy and feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness. The condition is often caused by a disruption of the body clock and hormone imbalance through shortened daylight hours and a lack of sunlight.
The nature and severity of SAD varies from person to person. Some people just find the condition a bit irritating, while for others it can be severe and have a significant impact on their day-to-day life.
Apart from conventional treatments for depression, SAD can be greatly improved by taking some of the following practical measures:
- Make the most of natural light and take your breaks.
- Eat as much fresh fruit and vegetables as you can as part of a balanced diet.
- Make room for some regular exercise, outdoors if possible.
- Try to reduce or manage your stress levels.
- Talk to your family, friends or line manager about SAD, so they can help to support you.
- If you notice that someone seems to be feeling down, ask them how they are and offer them an opportunity to talk, if they want to.
Help is available
You should see a GP if you think you might have SAD and you're finding it difficult to cope. We want everyone who works for Royal Mail to feel they can be open about their mental health and ask for support if they need it.
We all have times when we feel down. Most of the time, these feelings pass, but sometimes, they can develop into something more serious.
Support is available 24/7 from the First Class Support service. Call 0345 266 5060, visit www.rmgfirstclasssupport.co.uk or download the ‘Lifeworks’ app. New users of the website or app can ‘sign up’ using a unique invitation code, which is RMG- and then your payroll number, e.g. RMG-12345678.
- The Shout mental health text service is a free, nationwide, 24/7, text-based service. Text Shout to 85258 in the UK to text with a trained crisis volunteer.
- Stepchange offers expert, tailored advice and practical solutions to problem debt. Contact the UK’s leading debt charity on 0800 138 1111 or visit www.stepchange.org.
- Mind: www.mind.org.uk/need-urgent-help.
- Mental Health UK: www.mentalhealth-uk.org/help-and-information.
- NHS: www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters.
For urgent support in a crisis: call the Samaritans on 116 123 (open 24/7) or in the case of a suicide or other emergency situation, ring 999, or 9999 from a Royal Mail landline.