Beat the winter blues

Are you, or anyone you know, inclined to feel ‘low’ during winter? In Europe, many people suffer from Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD), largely due to reduced exposure to sunlight. In sunny South Africa, we are more fortunate… but there are still those who report being affected by a seasonal “low” over the winter months.


Use this questionnaire to see whether you are at risk – simply add up your scores. (Just keep in mind that the questionnaire is not intended to replace medical advice – if you are at all concerned about how you’re feeling, please see your GP.)

Over the winter months, do you generally – NO SOMETIMES OFTEN
– feel low and/or depressed? 0 1 2
– oversleep and/or feel very tired? 0 1 2
– overeat and/or crave carbohydrates? 0 1 2
– have difficulty concentrating? 0 1 2
– have trouble interacting with others? 0 1 2
– feel anxious? 0 1 2
– feel particularly irritable? 0 1 2
– lose interest in sex? 0 1 2
– experience a marked change in mood? 0 1 2


If your score is…

0-5: The winter months don’t seem to trouble you.

6-10: You may be susceptible to the winter blues, a condition that affects quite a number of people.

11-20: You’re experiencing some of the symptoms of SAD and will probably want to see your GP.

Some self-help ideas to beat the winter blues

  • Get as much natural light as possible. If you’re stuck in a building, try to sit by a window.
  • Go for a walk at lunchtime, when the sun is high.
  • Exercise is also a great antidote, as it boosts serotonin levels.
  • Resist the temptation of indulging in sugary and starchy foods and rather opt for a balanced diet.
Remember that the Scheme can help if you are suffering from a mental health disorder such as SAD. Call 0860 106 155, or email to find out whether you qualify for our Mental Health Programme.