September is a time of change and letting go, but for some, this change feels unsettling. As a result, our mental health can be impacted in a negative way and cause seasonal sadness.
“Much like how we used to feel as children when September was the month for us going back to school, this period brings a sense of trepidation and naturally we may feel a bit unsettled,” says Dr Arun Thiyagarajan, medical director at Bupa Health Clinic.
What is anxiety and SAD?
Anxiety includes the feelings of unease, fear and worry and the severity of symptoms will vary from person to person. It can have a disruptive impact on our day to day lives and can be triggered by different things, such as big life events, like moving home or simply the change of season.
Dr Arun Thiyagarajan explains: “While September isn’t officially the start of autumn it does feel like a change of season, which can play a part in our mood and mental health. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern.”
There is no definitive reason behind SAD, but the decrease in sunlight has been noted to be a potential factor.
“…the main theory is that a lack of sunlight might affect a part of the brain called the hypothalamus working properly, which may affect the production of serotonin, the hormone that affects our mood, appetite and sleep.”
Many of us will experience some form of anxiety in our lives, especially as we say farewell to summer, so it’s important to recognise arrival and the symptoms that follow.
Understanding and communicating
Anxiety can leave you feeling overwhelmed, which makes it hard to think or focus. The best way to tackle this is to get to the root by talking it out. Be that with a friend or with a professional to help you understand the root cause more clearly. As they say ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’.
Busy hands, busy mind. Keeping busy can be a quick and easy method in reducing and/or keeping symptoms of anxiety at bay. Do what will bring your spirits back up and keep your mind positive rather than focused on doom and gloom.
Soak up that Vitamin D
Yes, the sun may be lacking as winter draws in, but rather than focus on its absence, take it as an opportunity to enjoy those sunny moments all the more. Bonus, you’ll improve your melatonin and serotonin levels, to boost your mood and energy!
Mindfulness and meditation have both been proven to have a positive impact on mental wellbeing. So, while spending time sat still, breathing may not sound all that fun, don’t knock it till you’ve tried. We can all be guilty of neglecting very basic needs, such as time for ourselves. Or simply forgetting how to take a breath, especially when our minds are in an anxious state. So why not give it a try?
It can be hard to know when to seek help, but if your symptoms persist then it could be time to seek more professional advice. With lots of treatments available on offer to those diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder, you will find ways to help you cope in your daily life.