Last Updated 30 May, 2023

Seasonal Affective Disorder - SAD

What it is and how to cope with it

What is SAD?

Seasonal Affective Disoder or SAD is a type of depression, which comes and goes based on the seasons, so the symptoms are similar to depression, for example:

  • Feeling hopeless, helpless and worthless.
  • Lacking energy and motivation
  • Avoiding friends and family
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Increase or decrease in appetite

Most people affected by SAD, experience symptoms in the darker months of the year, as the days become shorter. Many of us experience mild versions of the symptoms over the winter. So when the clocks go back, if you notice your mood falling, take some of the steps below.

SAD symptoms and treatment
SAD symptoms and treatment (source)

Wellbeing tips to reduce SAD

Go outside when it is light

This usually means at lunchtime, since it’s often dark when we travel to work and dark when we leave. Take 10 minutes or so at lunchtime to walk round the block. This has the added benefit of getting you active, which can boost your mood too. At Rowan we often take joint lunch break walks round the North Inch, our nearest park. Walking with a colleague gives you “Connecting Time” as well as “Physical Time”, so you’re also hitting two of the Health Mind Platter sections.


You can’t hibernate completely, since we have to keep our working and family commitments during the winter, but can you be kind to yourself and leave major projects for spring and summer? For example decorating, planning a holiday, making a complicated journey? Pamper yourself a bit more in winter, by going slower, relaxing, making more time to meet friends or for hobbies, whatever you know cheers you up. This is part of accepting that you feel lower in winter and making allowances. Telling your friends and family may help them understand your low mood and stop them worrying that this is a permanent change. Remind yourself that you will feel better in spring.

See your GP

Many of us have mild versions of SAD, but if your symptoms are seriously affecting your ability to function, or if you are having suicidal thoughts, or turning to substance abuse, then talk to your GP. They may offer treatments such as counselling or antidepressants.

Use a light box

Some people find using a light box helpful. These have at least 10 times the intensity of ordinary household lights and can be used daily. They are not available on the NHS, but see the links at the end of this article for details and discuss with your GP first.


Useful links

NHS : Seasonal Affective Disorder

Wehrenerg, M. (2014, November 10). Seasonal Affective Disorder: Tips to Overcome the Disorder. Psychology Today. Retrieved Oct 30th 2017, from

Rowan Consultancy

Personal and Organisational Growth and Development: in the HOME, in BUSINESS, in the COMMUNITY.

Rowan Consultancy, 4 Kinnoull Street, Perth, PH1 5EN. +44(0)1738 562005