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If you have noticed that your mood- or that of someone you are close to- is exceptionally low this time of year, that could be because you are experiencing symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Just as it sounds, SAD is a disorder that is at its most prevalent during the darker days- from September to April. It causes symptoms of depression and anxiety and is more common than you’d think, affecting approximately 1 in 15 people. Like others who live as far from the equator as we do, the decrease in natural sunlight during the winter months has a direct effect on our mental health.

For many, SAD is so disabling that they cannot function normally without treatment. SAD most commonly begins between the ages of 18 and 30-years-old and you are diagnosed after two or more consecutive winters of experiencing symptoms.

So, what are they? Those with seasonal affective disorder may experience the following symptoms:

  • Sleeping problems– It is common to oversleep often and have difficulty staying awake.  Disturbed sleep and waking too early are also symptoms of SAD
  • Feeling lethargic– Those with SAD can lack energy and are sometimes unable to go about their normal day because they feel so tired. Limbs become heaving and weight gain is common due to overeating and craving carbs and sugar.
  • Feeling anxious– Anxiety is a common symptom with increased feelings of dread and stress.
  • Feeling depressed– Low moods, weeping and feeling generally sad are key features of SAD. Hopelessness and feelings of failure are also very common.
  • A weakened immune system– Those who suffer from SAD will be more susceptible to catching winter colds, flu and bugs.
  • Feeling apathetic– SAD causes loss of motivation and difficulty concentrating. It can also leave you feeling less motivated to partake in things you would normally find fun.
  • Feeling like staying in– More than normal, we mean. Those with SAD will withdraw from social situations at this time of year and become uninterested in friends.
  • Disinterest in sex– Loss of libido is a common symptom, meaning a decreased interest in sex and physical contact.
  • Mood swings in the warmer months– Many people experience spurts of energy and hyperactivity (known as hypomania) in spring.

Identifying this very common mental health issue is the first step. There are luckily many ways to treat and look after your mental health if you suffer from seasonal affective disorder:

Spend as much time as you can in the sun

Try to get up early to get the most out of the daylight. Make an effort to allow sunlight into your home. Trim any vegetation that may be blocking the path of sun rays to your windows. Keep blinds open and surround yourself with colour by painting walls and using brightly coloured décor. You could even switch desks at work so that you are sitting close to a window.

Try to stay healthy

This is the hardest one. Any exercise or time spent outdoors will help. A simple walk each day can have an amazing impact on your mental health. Try to limit your sugar, alcohol and caffeine intake (we know). These changes to your routine will be worth it when your mood lifts.

Try to have fun

Instead of taking all your holidays during the summer, takes some time off in winter to do the things you love and surround yourself with people who boost your mood and support you. Do what is fun FOR YOU.

Consult your GP

This one is important: Ask for help even before it seems overwhelming. Take all medication as prescribed by your doctor and keep an eye on any side effects. Your doctor may suggest light therapy. This is the use of artificial light to substitute the sunlight. Ask your doctor about this one- they will know.

The most important thing is to consult your doctor immediately if you notice your symptoms are getting worse or stronger. If you suffer from severe winter depression your doctor will need to determine if your symptoms are SAD related, or if something else is causing them.

Psychotherapy, behavioural therapy, stress management techniques and prescribed medication can all be used to treat SAD. Remember, you are never alone, and your GP will always be there to support your mental health.

Sources: Mental Health Ireland, HSE.ie

 

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Danish band Lukas Graham have landed in hot water after covering the late rapper XXXTenacion's song SAD!, claiming to have no knowledge of his violent past.

The track was covered as a stripped-down version for the Spotify Singles series, and now the lead singer Lukas Forchammer has stated that the song will be removed from streaming services.

He posted a now-deleted statement to Instagram, writing; “Our cover of ‘SAD!’ will be taken down ASAP. I had no knowledge of his violent history. I’m very sorry for the pain I’ve caused. Again, I’m very sorry.”

The band allegedly had no clue about the deceased rap artist's controversial history with the law.

At the time of his death back in 2016, he was facing trial for a number of charges including false imprisonment and aggravated battery of a pregnant woman.

The band's apology referenced XXX's domestic abuse charges from October 2016, after he was shot and killed in June of that year.

The 20-year-old's multi-platinum-selling posthumous album ? has been boosted and featured by a number of famous hip-hop and rap artists.

The rapper confessed to “f*cking up” his ex-girlfriend, in addition to a number of other violent crimes in a secret video which was made public after his death.

Real name Jahseh Onfroy said in an interview with the podcast No Jumper that he nearly killed his gay prison inmate who was staring at him. He laughed throughout the interview, showing no remorse.

"I was going crazy,” he told the interviewer. “I smear his blood on my face, on my hands. I got it, like, in my nails. I got it all over me. I was going f*cking crazy.”

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We've all been given the 'seen' treatment.

You know the feeling; you send a frankly hilarious/charming/emotionally charged message to a significant other, or someone you just think is damn FINE and they reply with ….nothing.

You're left stunned, humiliated and downright SANGRY. (Sad and angry, the term will catch on eventually.)

Well, when one girlfriend was getting zero response, she decided to do something productive with her time and create a fake movie trailer for the search for missing man.

The result is GAS;

Paulina Ramirez sent a text to her boyfriend George Giron about a potential plan for chicken and waffles, but never heard back.

How in God's name can anyone not reply to chicken and waffles? What kind of monster is that??

people feel better GIF

Yet instead of stewing in her own frustration and rage, the 21-year-old student at California State University, Ramirez created this professional-grade trailer called Where the F*** is George?

She spoke to Buzzfeed about her highly productive and funny project, and as it turned out, he was only asleep…for an hour.

"I got bored and decided to make a video that might make him chuckle."

The video went viral after she uploaded it to Twitter, with more than 1.4million views, 50,000 retweets, and 160,000 likes. 

Fair play Paulina, but maybe wait longer than an hour to send out a search party.

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For many people, the sun's return is the perfect antidote to perk up their mood and give them new vim and vigour.

However, this pick-me-up is not felt by everyone during spells of good weather.

In fact, there are some people who struggle with a condition known as 'reverse SAD' or 'summer SAD' (seasonal affective disorder).

Reverse SAD is quite similar to seasonal affective disorder that occurs during the winter. According to mental health charity Mind's website, with reverse SAD people experience 'depressive symptoms occurring in summer'.

The condition's symptoms include anxiety, issues sleeping, agitation, loss of appetite, and weight loss. 

Summer SAD is quite rare, with less than one tenth of SAD cases being reverse SAD, according to Psychology Today.

It is thought that the presence of too much sunlight causes the onset of summer SAD, as increased daylight can lead to modulations in melatonin production.

An alternative theory is that those longer daylight hours cause people to stay up later than usual, throwing off their circadian rhythms.

As well, temperature may have a part to play in the condition, which comes as no surprise when you think about how agitated people can become in the heat.

Summer SAD tends to be more prevalent in places with warmer summers, so, for example, those in the southern United States would experience it more than those in the north.

Those with the condition may start to experience symptoms around March that last until autumn.

Those that suffer from reverse SAD can check out Mind's guide to treating this complex condition or consult their doctor.

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Two long-lost brothers are set to meet for the first time after being split up almost 78 years ago.

Jimmy O'Donnell, now 80, believed he was an only child for his whole life, until he got a call this week to tell him his younger brother Frederick, 78, had been searching for him and wanted to meet. 

The men's mother Julia O'Donnell had Jimmy aged just 19, and gave birth to Frederick two years later. Both boys were born in separate mother-and-baby homes, and Julia was confined to the convent-run Magdalene Laundry in Cork shortly afterwards, where she remained for the rest of her life. Julia sadly passed away in 1996 aged 81, but in a bittersweet ending, her sons will finally meet.

Frederick's search for his roots began in 2013 with the help of one of this three daughters, Theresa Wardley. In April of this year, Theresa appealed to readers of the Herald newspaper for any information that may be out there. The search caught the attention of  Finders International, a company that tracks down relatives of people who die without making a will.

Frederick O'Donnell with his daughter Theresa Wardley

Earlier this week, researcher Amy Littlechild managed to locate Jimmy at his place of work, a pub in Cheltenham, England, just a few hours drive from Bradford, where Frederick is now settled.

Although Jimmy did meet his mother again many years before her death, he was never made aware of the fact he had a brother. Theresa described her first phone call with her long-lost uncle as a "wonderful moment."

Back in 2013, Frederick too had travelled to Cork to visit his mother's grave. "My dad put his hand on the headstone and said, 'Hello Mum'. It was so sad. He shed a few tears and it broke my heart," Theresa told the Herald. How beautiful to hear of a happy ending for this very sad tale.

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It has been confirmed by the family of American Idol contestant Joanne Borgella that she passed away on the 18th October last. 

The 32-year-old was battling cancer and tragically lost her fight against the disease yesterday. 

Her family announced the heartbreaking news on Facebook, writing: “To God be the glory! With heavy heart, we are deeply saddened to announce the passing of our beloved Joanne. On Saturday, October 18, 2014 at 5.45am, Joanne Borgella Ramirez was called by the Lord to heaven. At an early age, Joanne made a choice to love and trust the Lord; and since her diagnosis over a year ago, Joanne made a choice to be a fighter and share her journey with the world. Her faith, courage and strength were unshaken throughout every obstacle she encountered. Although our family is suffering with this great loss, we find comfort in the closeness Joanne shared with the Lord. We know her spirit still shines and will continue to live on in heaven.”

Joanne made it to the top 12 girls on American Idol back in 2008. 

Since then she has become a familiar face on US television, appearing on MTV's Made and NUVOtv's Curvy Girls

The singer and actress shared updates of her diagnosis with her fans through videoes. 

Here is a reminder of the amazing talent Joanne shared with the world during her appearance on American Idol.

Our thoughts are with Joanne’s family at this difficult time. 

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There’s sad news for this model and her footballer boyfriend as it’s all over!

Jourdan Dunn had been going out with Liverpool striker, Daniel Sturridge since last year, but it has now been reported that the couple have called it quits.

The model, who is a mum to four year-old Riley, was expected to be attending The World Cup in Rio this year, but it doesn’t look like that will be happening now!

Daniel was spotted in Miami last month spending time with a stunning woman, sparking rumours that there may be trouble in paradise.

jd

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Noooooo!! We don’t want to say goodbye to our favourite couple *sad face*

On US chat show The Talk, the cast of How I Met Your Mother spoke about how difficult it would be to leave their characters and on-screen relationships behind as they approach the end of the show after almost ten years.

It all got too much for Alyson Hannigan, who plays Lily on the show, when she was asked what she would miss most about her on-screen husband Jason Segal. Go to 1.44 to see Alyson getting choked up about the idea of leaving the relationship behind.

We are really going to miss Marshall and Lily; here is reminder of their amazingness:

Oh, snap!

marshall and lily

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A loving father has published a series of goodbye photos dedicated to his late wife, who died of cancer in 2011.

The photos feature Ben Nunery and his daughter Olivia recreating Ben and Ali Nunery’s wedding shoot.

The two were married in 2009 and decided to take their wedding pictures in the house they planned to spend their lives in.

However, Ali passed away just two and a half years later and now that Ben is moving to a new home with their daughter, he wanted to take one more round of photographs to honour his late wife.

When asked about the photos, Ben said: “This isn’t a story about grief and loss and hurt…This is a story about love.”

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