Seasonal Affective Disorder – not just the Winter Blues

The Winter Blues or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression with episodes occurring at the same time each year, usually during the winter.

Claire’s Story.

Claire (1) tried to keep upbeat during winter, but she found it really difficult. The last straw came one Monday. Waking up at 7.00am after a couple of hours of sleep, she fought to get herself out of bed.  She told herself: There’s no point in getting up. It’s dark outside. I’m tired; I can’t believe I didn’t sleep again. I’ll be useless at work. I’m probably going to get the sack anyway.

That day, Claire tried not to fall asleep at her desk, but by the afternoon she was exhausted. She was also ‘hyper’ because of all the coffee she had been drinking to keep herself awake. Her boss, Steve, came to check on a report she was supposed to be preparing. When she realised she had forgotten all about it, she snapped at him. Afterwards, she felt terrible. “I couldn’t even remember that report!  And I was horrid to Steve. He didn’t deserve it.  It’s useless. I can’t cope”

Symptoms of SAD

Claire was experiencing many of the symptoms of SAD, which can include:

• Depression
• Apathy and inability to feel
• Low mood
• Loss of libido
• Guilt
• Need to sleep more
• Loss of self-esteem
• Difficulty staying awake
• Hopelessness and despair
• Early morning waking
• Fatigue and lethargy
• Difficulty in carrying out normal routines
• Overeating
• Craving sweet foods
• Difficulty with concentration
• Loss of memory
• Irritability
• Finding it hard to be with people

How counselling can help with SAD

Claire decided to see a counsellor. As she talked about what it was like for her, she was surprised and relieved to be taken seriously. She felt as if somebody finally understood what was happening and for the first time in years, she realised that she wasn’t alone.

She thought “If my counsellor understands what’s happening, then maybe it’s not all my fault… maybe I can change something so that Winter isn’t so awful anymore”.  Together they found ways that she could help herself, and ways that she could ask for support when she needed it.  Claire found that she could be who she was, SAD and all, and live more fully. Life began to feel much brighter.




(1) To protect client confidentiality, we will never write about our clients. Claire is a fictional character based on real experience.