What are the common signs of SAD?

If you experience SAD symptoms for at least two to three years, you are likely to receive a diagnosis of SAD. There are many different symptoms of SAD, and you may experience some or all of the following:

  • Lack of energy for everyday tasks, such as studying or going to work
  • Concentration problems
  • Sleep problems
  • Feeling sad, low, tearful, guilty, hopeless or despairing
  • Feeling apathetic i.e. feeling nothing
  • Feeling tense and unable to cope with everyday stresses
  • Experiencing panic attacks
  • Mood changes, for example bursts of hyperactivity and cheerfulness (known as hypomania) in spring and autumn
  • Overeating, particularly craving carbohydrates and putting on weight
  • Being more prone to illness, as some people with SAD may have a lowered immune system during the winter, and may be more likely to get colds, infections and other illnesses
  • Loss of interest in sex or physical contact
  • Social problems, such as not wanting to see people, or difficult or abusive behaviour
  • Alcohol or drug abuse

“I first started feeling low in the winter months in my late 20s…Now, every autumn when the clocks change, I feel like I’m being buried alive. I want to hide away and hibernate until it’s all over.”

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