Dear Janine,

I know a lot of people really enjoy Autumn and Winter, but this is the most difficult time of the year for me, as I’ve noticed that I tend to get very lonely and depressed. I love summer as I’m outdoors and active. How can I change this?

Kind regards, Summer-lover

Dear Summer Lover

This is such an interesting question, as I used to feel exactly the same way when I moved from a warm and sunny climate to a wet and snowy one. What you’re describing sounds like Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons. Most people with SAD, notice that their symptoms start in autumn and continue into the winter months, and they feel lethargic, emotional and listless. The good news is that this is very easy to treat.

First off, I would recommend getting your vitamin D levels tested by your GP. The reason being, that even a moderate deficiency can lead to symptoms that mirror depression. This is a very simple blood test.

When I was studying Psychology, my own GP told me that as little as 20 years ago, people were being misdiagnosed as having depression and being prescribed anti-depressants, when in reality they were just vitamin D deficient.

That really shocked me and brought home how important this is!

Many people living in warmer climates think they’ll never get this as they have so much sun, BUT often people in warmer climates spend more time indoors avoiding the sun, so it is absolutely possible!

Common symptoms include:

  • Fatigue and Tiredness

  • Bone and Back Pain

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day

  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed

  • Having low energy

  • Having problems with sleeping

  • Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight

  • Feeling sluggish or agitated

  • Having difficulty concentrating

Secondly, what REALLY helped me to enjoy the cooler months, was the Danish concept of hygge. Loosely translated, this means the feeling of cozy contentment and well-being through enjoying the simple things in life.” Think being snuggled up under a cozy blanket reading an amazing book, hearty soups, candle-lit baths, a nice glass of wine in front of the fireplace.

Anything that personally makes you feel comforted and nourished.

If you enjoy sports, I would recommend finding something you like that you can do in the cooler months such as indoor swimming, badminton, ice-skating, skiing or joining a local gym.

Light therapy is another great option. These portable lamps imitate sunlight. When choosing a lamp be sure to get one that filters out UV rays to protect your eyes, many have different brightness settings, which will enable you to customise the treatment to your liking. Sitting in front of them a few minutes a day have shown to improve SAD symptoms.

I hope this helps!