Autumn leaves some feeling depressed

THE CLOCKS go back one hour on Sunday, October 30, marking the end of British Summer Time.

Although an extra hour in bed is always welcome, the onset of winter is depressing news for some people.

Tony McLaren, Breathing Space national coordinator, explained: “As many as one in 15 Britons become depressed at this time of year and suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The symptoms of SAD recur regularly each winter and can include depression, sleep problems, lethargy, over eating, irritability and difficulty in concentrating. Millions more have the ‘winter blues’ with the shorter and colder days contributing to feelings of anxiety and low mood.

“We see a large increase in calls to Breathing Space over the winter months. Many callers are feeling the effects of depression and often find it hard to pinpoint the cause for their low mood. Sometimes the thought of sharing with friends or family can seem such a difficult prospect that people prefer to pretend everything is okay. That’s where the Breathing Space team can help. We have specialist call advisors available 6pm-6am at weekends (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) and 6pm-2am weekdays (Monday-Thursday) on freephone 0800 83 85 87.”

Breathing Space is a free and confidential phone and web based service for any individual who is experiencing low mood or depression, or who is unusually worried and in need of someone to talk to. The service receives more than 6000 calls each month, relating to a wide range of issues including relationship difficulties, stress at work, bereavement, isolation, loneliness and suicide.

“Sometimes, just talking to someone and sharing how you feel can be the first step in combating the effects of the winter blues. Call advisors can listen and offer advice, or suggest people who can help with more specific problems in the caller’s local area,” said Tony.

“The winter blues have been linked to a lack of exposure to daylight so it’s also important for people to get outdoors during the day. Participating in physical exercise and getting some ‘breathing space’, whether that’s reading a book or listening to music, are other good ways to lift your mood - it’s easy to neglect your mental health in the run up to winter.” said Tony.

More information on SAD and the winter blues can be found by visiting the NHS Inform health library at

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