The turning back of the clocks tonight marks the descent into winter, bringing with it shorter days, darker evenings, and a condition that a rapidly increasing number of people now dread all year: seasonal affective disorder – SAD.
Figures reveal that up to four million people in the UK may now be affected by SAD – up from 500,000 a decade ago. That, even with a recession descending, has sparked a spending boom among those desperate to find a way to lift the gloom.
Light boxes and timed devices that mimic the effects of sunrise are selling fast, while increasing numbers are signing up for recommended exercise classes. Some are even turning to more dramatic means.
Prescriptions of antidepressants have tripled since the early Nineties, and it is thought many of those turning to them believe their condition is driven – or at least made worse – by seasonal factors.
This month the Government announced a £173m programme to improve access to mental health clinics. Meanwhile, the number of doctors prescribing exercise to cure depression has risen four-fold since 2005. "GPs are noticing many more people coming in with symptoms related to SAD," said Sarah Jarvis, a family doctor. "Partly that's because we're more aware of it, partly there's less stigma attached to it, and partly more people are getting it."
Source - Independent