Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

It is so nice to see the Spring and sunshine after what feels like a long wet grey winter. This winter has certainly seen many people feeling down and a bit depressed. Many may well have been suffering from SAD.

Coming from the bottom of the South Island where we don’t seem to have so many grey days, I certainly notice when we experience continual grey days in Auckland.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of winter depression that affects an estimated half a million people every winter. It is caused by a biochemical imbalance in the hypothalamus due to the shortening of day light hours and the lack of sunlight in winter.

For many people SAD is a seriously disabling illness, preventing them from functioning normally without continuous treatment.  For others, it is a mild but debilitating condition causing discomfort but not severe suffering. SAD symptoms disappear in Spring or early Summer depending on the intensity of the sunlight.

SAD can affect adults, teens and children. It’s estimated that about 6% of our population experience SAD and females are about four times more likely than males to develop SAD.

SAD occurs throughout the Northern and Southern hemispheres, however is rare in those people living within 30 degrees of the equator where the daylight hours are long, constant and extremely bright.

Some symptoms of SAD are:

  • Sleep Problems – a desire to oversleep, difficulty staying awake and disturbed sleep
  • Lethargy – feelings of fatigue and inability to carry out normal routine
  • Overeating – craving for carbs and sweet food usually resulting in weight gain
  • Depression – feelings of misery and guilt along with loss of self esteem
  • Social problems – irritability and a desire to avoid social contact
  • Anxiety – tension and inability to tolerate stress
  • Loss of libido – decreased interest in sex
  • Mood Changes – mood swings


Counselling or any complementary therapy which helps sufferers to relax, accept their illness and cope with its limitations are extremely useful.

Natural remedies to help lift low mood.