HELP is at hand for sufferers of a medical condition which could affect almost one person in every 15 during winter, according to health chiefs.
They said treatment was available for Seasonal Affective Disorder, known as SAD, which causes depression and fatigue and is at its mot severe in January and February.
Although the causes are not fully understood, doctors now have a much better understanding of the condition and how to tackle it.
Burton-based GP, Dr Charles Pidsley, chief clinical officer of East Staffordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “SAD is one of those conditions that have only become generally recognised relatively recently.
“It is a genuine form of depression, and like all depression it can have a profound impact on some people, and no two cases are the same.”
SAD symptoms include those of depression, like feelings of despair and having low self-esteem, anxiety and irritability.
Additionally, sufferers may be less active, feel tired and need more sleep, be lethargic when they are awake, lose concentration and eat more than usual.
Dr Pidsley said: “SAD does tend to ease away as spring approaches, and the cause is very probably related to the way daylight impacts on the part of the brain that controls mood, appetite and sleep.
“The good news is that if you think you are affected you can be assessed and there are a number of treatments that do work.
These include light boxes, behavioural therapy and medication.”
“Like most medical conditions, it is less scary once you start to understand it, and simply talking about it can help.”
SAD can affect people of any age, including children, and it is estimated up to 12 million people in northern Europe are affected.