GQ Magazine: SAD Treatment Options

How Seasonal Affective Disorder Could be Impacting your Wellbeing

by Dr Leigh A Neal, Consultant Psychiatrist and Medical Director at Smart TMS

The recent GQ Magazine feature by Smart TMS’s Dr Leigh Neal looks at the treatment options for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) ranging from self-help measures to medication, light therapy and other non-invasive therapies.

SAD affects an estimated 1 in 5 Brits and around 3% will suffer with the most severe form of SAD which can significantly impact on normal daily life.  Now that the clocks have gone back and days are getting noticeably shorter, sufferers will have really started to notice the symptoms start to kick in.

Seasonal Affective Disorder has been recognised as a mood disorder and a number of treatment options are available depending on the severity of symptoms.

In his recent article for GQ magazine, british GQ magazineDr Neal explains the potential ways in which the condition may be treated:

So how do you choose a treatment?

“For less severe sufferers, lifestyle changes can make a big difference.

Lifestyle Changes/Self-Help

“Take a look at your day to see if there are any opportunities to increase the amount of time you spend outdoors during daylight hours – even when the weather is cloudy. Make an effort to spend as much time as possible outdoors, particularly in the middle of the day when the sun is at its strongest. Where possible, try not to give in to the temptation to shut yourself away indoors as this can actually reduce exposure to sunlight and cause symptoms to worsen.

“Regular exercise (particularly outdoors) and a healthy diet can also help to ease symptoms and maintain overall well-being.

Lightboxes/Sunrise Alarm Clocks

“Several specialist lightboxes for SAD are also available to buy online. They are designed to replicate the light from the sun. Sitting near a lightbox for 30-60 minutes a day can help to reduce symptoms of SAD. Sunrise alarm clocks can also be very helpful.


“If you are experiencing severe changes of mood and wellbeing at any time of year, consult your doctor and talk to them about your treatment options. Doctors may prescribe antidepressant medications. If this is the case, ensure that you check with your doctor that your tablets do not increase drowsiness as this could increase your symptoms. Before taking any antidepressant you should carefully consider the potential side effects. Many antidepressants have fairly severe side effects including sexual dysfunction, nausea, blurred vision and increase or decrease in weight.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Therapy

“TMS offers an alternative to antidepressant medication in the treatment of SAD and other forms of depression and mental health issues. The treatment does not require the use of any medication or invasive surgery and patients can be treated as outpatients. TMS treatments have minimal side effects, the most common being slight headaches or discomfort of the scalp.

“TMS is a simple treatment. It uses a coil to create pulses of magnetic energy that can stimulate or dampen down certain areas of the brain that are known to contribute to particular psychiatric conditions. The treatment has been approved by NICE as an effective and safe treatment for depression in the UK.

“If you or someone you know is dreading the arrival of the winter months and the change in mood they bring, you may be suffering from SAD. There’s no need to suffer in silence. If SAD is impacting the quality of your daily life, consider making small lifestyle changes to ease symptoms, or for more severe cases, consider seeking out a treatment that helps you manage your symptoms and continue living your life.”

See GQ Magazine: Seasonal Affective Disorder for more information about the condition SAD.

View Article in Full

Read the full article in GQ Magazine at: GQ Magazine: How seasonal affective disorder could be impacting your wellbeing.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

More information about the condition SAD on our website: Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Dr Leigh A Neal

Dr Leigh NealDr Leigh A Neal is a consultant psychiatrist and Medical Director of  Smart TMS, a London-based clinic offering Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation – a non-medication-based mental health treatment.

He has been a Consultant Psychiatrist for over 20 years with a career including work within the Armed Forces, NHS and Independent Sector.

Smart TMS Clinics

Smart TMS is a specialist provider of TMS treatment, located at clinics in London, Birmingham and Dublin with expansion planned for Manchester and Bristol in 2018. Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation therapy (rTMS) is a technological breakthrough in the treatment of depression with a variety of further potential treatment applications.


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