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Are you feeling SAD this season?
By Chaz Harrison
BBC Northampton

Seasonal Affective Disorder
We look at how Seasonal Affective Disorder affects people in Northamptonshire.

A Wellingborough man wants more people to be aware of the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Thomas Wreakes has suffered from the disorder for more than 3 years, and finds he gets particularly worse during December and January.

"My friends love the Christmas season and could never understand why I didn't show the same enthusiasm," said Thomas.

Thomas found that as the days became shorter, so did his temper and he knew something was wrong.

Symptoms of SAD include low mood, and anxiety. Because this can be seen as a part of some people's everyday lives, it's often missed.

Seasonal Affective Disorder affects nearly half a million people each year. However, there are still thousands of people who have SAD and don't realise it.

"Even though I was officially diagnosed with SAD 3 years ago, I have always felt I suffered with it for many years before that," said Thomas.

Thomas found whenever it was a dull dark day he would fall into a depressive mood. This happened for many years and his friends would jokingly say he had SAD, not realising this really was the case.

"I guess you never like to think you could actually suffer from a disorder. A lot of people thought I was just a touchy person but there was a lot more to it," he said.

Tony Adams runs a mental health support group in Northampton and has seen many cases like Thomas.

Symptoms of SAD
Depression
Sleep Problems
Mood Changes
Anxiety
Lethargy

"This is not uncommon. It's such a complicated disorder that not many people understand that it can simply go unnoticed," said Tony.

Most sufferers show signs of a weakened immune system during the winter and are more vulnerable to infections and other illnesses.

The symptoms disappear in spring, either suddenly with a short period of hyperactivity, or the intensity of sunlight in the spring and early summer.

Treatments

If you think you're suffering from SAD there are treatments available.

Light therapy is a treatment available for SAD cases. This is when you are exposed four hours a day to very bright light, ten times the intensity of ordinary domestic lighting.

This has worked for at least 85% of cases of SAD.

"SAD is real and does affect people. I want people to know that if they suffer from I they are not alone," said Thomas.

For more information or help with SAD contact the SAD website.




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