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Beating the winter blues

File photo/Daniel Hines/SunLive.

With New Zealand in the middle of winter, many may be suffering from SAD – otherwise known as seasonal affective disorder.

WeatherWatch.co.nz head forecaster Philip Duncan says SAD is quite normal to experience when our nights get long and the days become short.

“Even those further north in New Zealand with decent daytime hours can still suffer from SAD if you're spending far less time outdoors in the sun due to the weather and the reduced daylight hours combined. Commuters in Auckland can also spend three hours each and every day in traffic/transport at either end of their working hours.

“For most of us experiencing SAD is only mild, we cope with it just fine. But for others the gloom of winter can really affect you in crippling ways, especially if it makes other issues feel even heavier and darker.

“SAD can be a serious issue for some people, even here in New Zealand which isn't typically impacted by SAD compared to other nations which have little to no sunlight in their winter months.”

Philip says like depression, SAD can affect how we feel and behave for days, weeks and even months.

“When you are depressed, your low mood lasts, affecting your sleep, energy levels, relationships, job and appetite.

“The difference between depression and SAD is that if you experience SAD your symptoms will appear around the end of autumn, and continue through winter and until the days get longer and sunnier in early spring.”

The Mental Health Foundation say SAD should not be ignored as it can be effectively treated.

Light therapy is one way to treat SAD, and it is simple but effective. Philip advises people to turn lights on during the day in the workplace or at home if it is dark and gloomy.

“SAD symptoms fade as our daylight hours increase - in fact each week in September we gain roughly an extra 20 minutes of sunlight, which means well over one hour of daylight is gained in just one month - then daylight savings begins late September and we instantly gain another hour of sunlight.

“In Winter it's normal for people to be tired of wet weather, tired of being indoors, and missing the warmth of the sun on their skin. Some, however, are even happier in the darker months of winter. A few tell us they enjoy the shorter, darker, days and being indoors more often. That it feels cosier and more comforting.”

For more information on depression or SAD please click on the below links...

www.Depression.org.nz

www.depression.org.nz/rural

More about SAD via Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand

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