Seasonal depression warning from expert

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A WIGAN medical expert is advising local people on how to avoid a type of depression that tends to strike at this time of the year.

Dr Paul Campbell says residents should check for signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which is more common in the winter months.

Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Lead for Primary Care Psychology Service (IAPT) in Ashton Wigan and Leigh, Dr Campbell insists sufferers must try to go outside during daylight hours as much as possible.

But if anyone thinks they have symptoms of the disorder they should visit their GP immediately.

He said: “People who have any signs of the depression within the winter months should ensure they maintain exercising five times a week for half an hour which could even just be a brisk walk, healthy eating and just trying to be outside as much as they can. In a nutshell just act like it’s still summertime.

“The main causes of this is brought on by lack of sunlight which causes a chemical change which can then bring on depression. The evidence of the disorder is a bit patchy to highlight exactly why it is brought on. But the symptoms are very similar to that of depression except that patients tend to sleep too much with SAD and they appear to have an increase in weight as individuals tend to crave a lot more carbohydrates. This is linked with energy levels. They are the three tell-tale signs.”

SAD is considered a type of depression from which about five per cent of the population suffers.

It can begin at any age, but most people develop it before the age of 21. Women are twice as likely as men to have SAD, but it’s difficult to get an accurate picture, as men can find it harder to talk about depressive symptoms.

Sam Challis, Information Manager at the mental health charity Mind, said: “The winter months with their long nights and cold, wet weather can cause many of us to feel more down than we usually do. While some people may notice a small in dip in mood and experience ‘the winter blues’, others may be more severely affected by the lack of daylight, and develop SAD.