Causes malaise, lethargy and social isolation

«Seasonal depression». A heavy guest sneaks between seasons


The Emirates Health Services (EHS) has warned of seasonal depression, which coincides with the change of seasons, and may cause malaise, loss of appetite, lethargy and social isolation.

Doctors stressed that the elderly, most susceptible to this type of depression, calling for the prevention of the symptoms of this phenomenon «by following a healthy lifestyle, and prior awareness about the disease and its symptoms».

Kholoud Juma Darwish, a psychologist at Al-Amal Hospital for Mental Health, affiliated with the Foundation, explained that seasonal depression is one of the cases in which people suffer dark feelings in conjunction with the change of seasons, such as the winter season, in which the daylight hours are shortened and the night hours are prolonged.

She reported that this type of depression begins in late spring and lasts until early autumn, and is accompanied by symptoms including loss of appetite, malaise, irritability, insomnia, lethargy, social isolation, loss of self-confidence, decreased activity with loss of concentration.

Darwish stated that people not getting enough hours of sleep may contribute to stimulating seasonal depression factors, pointing out that the elderly may be more likely to suffer from this type of depression, especially in the summer and high temperatures.

She indicated that the long daylight hours in summer, and the accompanying pressures, and the tendency of some people to isolation, and not to practice any kind of sports or social activities, as well as not to be exposed to sunlight, are among the reasons that may lead to hormonal imbalances in the body, and a decrease in the levels of Vietnam «D», which leads to a feeling of laziness and lethargy, and may turn into seasonal depression, which contributes to the loss of self-confidence, and reduces the person's ability to communicate and build social relationships.

She warned of the repercussions of seasonal depression, due to its risks to family relationships, and its negative consequences in the work or study environment, unless the patient resorts to seeking specialized medical help, stressing the importance and role of family and community support in getting rid of negative feelings.

Regarding the treatment mechanisms used, she explained that specialized doctors work through cognitive behavioral therapy to identify positive activities that contribute to stimulating the general mood of the patient, including these activities of exercise, meditation, and relaxation, in addition to searching for new hobbies that help relieve stress and anxiety and enhance positive feelings.

She also stressed the need to develop a schedule that regulates the times and hours of the day, in a way that contributes to expelling negative thoughts, raising positive energy, in addition to achieving balance in the diet followed, given its importance and consequences on mental and physical health.

Dr. Mohammed Farajallah, a consultant psychiatrist at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City in Ajman, said seasonal depression is different from pathological depression.

He explained that seasonal depression occurs every season, or every year, and some people experience it, whether early winter or early autumn.

He said: «It currently coincides with the return of people from vacations and the beginning of the work season, the beginning of winter and the end of the summer season, and some may think that he has pathological depression, while he may have symptoms of seasonal depression, for declining mood, low energy, feeling tired easily, loss of desire and inability to extract pleasure when practicing hobbies and beloved things, sleep and appetite disturbance, and sometimes the presence of suicidal thoughts and a decrease in concentration».

As for the group most vulnerable to seasonal depression, he said that they are «people with a previous history of depression», adding that «the causes of this disease are still not fully known, but there is a relationship to the short period of the day and the length of the night, and then lack of exposure to the sun, and vitamin D deficiency».

He advised anyone who is exposed to any of the symptoms of depression to see doctors to diagnose the type of disease he has, and then determine the appropriate treatment program for him, noting that seasonal depression usually occurs in a temporary transient, after which the person returns to his normal state.

He stated that seasonal depression negatively affects productivity and social relationships, and treatment is usually by exposing the affected person to light and taking antidepressants, in addition to activating behavioral therapy.

Dr. Talaat Matar, a consultant psychiatrist at RAK Hospital, said seasonal depression usually occurs clearly in countries where the sun does not shine long enough, such as Northern Europe, and they are treated with light exposure in these cases.

He called for distinguishing between exposure to boredom, distress and sadness and the symptoms of depression in general, as "the occurrence of some symptoms does not mean that the owner suffers from depression."

He advised to consult specialists to obtain the appropriate treatment plan for each case.

• Seasonal depression begins to appear in late spring and lasts until early fall.