Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects up to three in 100 people in the UK at some point in their lifetime.
SAD is a form of depression that occurs most often in winter, but can happen at any time of year. January is the peak season for SAD due to post-Christmas debt, gloomy weather, short days, and failing New Year’s resolutions.
Often dubbed the ‘January blues’, many people experience feelings of low mood, sadness, lack of motivation, tiredness and low energy throughout the month which all have a significant impact on mental health and wellbeing.
However, it’s important to highlight that whilst ‘January blues’ only refers to one month of the year, depression and mental health problems can occur at any given time.
Suicide still remains the biggest single killer of men under 45, and males are three times more likely to commit suicide than women, according to ONS data.
In 2019, the year before the Covid-19 pandemic, suicide in the UK was at its highest rate since the year 2000, with 5,691 suicides recorded.
With that being said, Dr Earim Chaudy, Medical Director of men’s health platform Manual has provided some signs to look out for if you suspect someone is suffering from depression, or other mental health conditions, which could be useful for a family member or friend in need.
- Becoming withdrawn
Withdrawal is a strong indicator that someone could be depressed. People suffering from depression can lose interest in things that once excited them, and avoid friends and family, choosing to be alone. You might find it more difficult to get hold of them as they could be avoiding texts, phone calls, social occasions.
If you notice a friend, family member or work colleague becoming withdrawn, offer your support. Ask them if they want to talk, or even send a text or phone call to let them know that you are there for them.
- Changes in personality
Someone suffering from depression may not be acting like their normal selves. This can be through their actions or behaviours, such as cancelling plans or having little interest in doing things they used to enjoy. Their speech and communication may also change – you might notice they are speaking quicker or more slowly than usual, finding it difficult to communicate or focus on everyday tasks.
They might also become moody, or more easily irritated. Make sure to take notice of their personality changes, and offer your support if you think they’re struggling.
- Self-destructive behaviour
Sometimes people with depression can become reckless because they may no longer value their life. This can include reckless driving, abusing drugs or alcohol, engaging in unsafe sex, and not eating a proper diet.
If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to raise your concerns with the person as they might be in need of support. If you think their life could be in serious danger, make sure to seek emergency help by calling 999.
- Changes in sleeping patterns
If you notice someone suffering from insomnia, this could be a sign of depression. Those who struggle to sleep can sometimes have problems switching off, staying up for hours and then feeling fatigued the next day. On the other hand, the person might be oversleeping, or stay in bed throughout the day and not get up.
If you notice these kinds of changes, ask them if there’s any reason this might be happening and offer support – you can even suggest they visit their GP to seek professional help.
- Threatening or talking about suicide
Many people who think about suicide will often give a warning sign before they do so. This could be in the form of a joke, or even a threat. Whilst not everyone who talks about suicide will follow through with it, it’s important to question it. Every threat of suicide must be taken seriously.
If a notice threats from a friend or family member regarding suicide, make sure you talk to them, even if you think they are joking. In cases where it’s too late, make sure to contact Suicide Scene Cleaning and funeral services immediately.
Further signs someone could be suicidal:
- Feeling guilt or shame
- Giving away personal items or belongings
- Saying goodbye to people
- Looking for ways to harm themselves or others
- Feeling like a burden to others
- Extreme mood swings
If you feel like you are affected by any of the above, or know someone who might be, you should consider consulting a GP or seeking professional help.