Will moving somewhere sunnier help my poor mental health?

I don’t know if it is just me but it feels like everyone I know is moving to Australia.

Opening up Instagram, I see yet another boarding pass uploaded with the Australian flag captioned and an excited face emoji.

I guess it makes sense, currently in England the sun goes in at 5pm, if it decides to come out at all.

If it’s not raining, there’s gale force winds.

Meanwhile on the other side of the world, its blue skies and a quick surf before work.

For years we’ve been sold the winter sun dream, with holiday packages and January flight sales.

But how is escaping the first months of the year benefitting people’s mental health?

Luke Hedgecox, a Software Engineer based in London, booked flights to Australia managing to escape the winter period.

He said: ‘’Being here I realised how depressing London can be in the winter.

“Come January and February, you feel so low for like six weeks until spring comes back around.

“But being in Australia is just great.

“I’m coming home in April so it will be like I’ve skipped the worst part of the year”.

While travelling isn’t an accessible option for everyone, it’s interesting to note the positive effects that sunlight has on the human body.

Dr Daniel Masud a General Adult Consultant Psychiatrist and Addiction Psychiatrist at Schoen Clinic Chelsea, explained why people can feel much lower throughout the winter period.

He said: “Seasonal Depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs at a certain time of year, usually in the winter and it’s been attributed to less natural sunlight. 

“It’s believed to be related to the change of light exposure which disrupts the body’s internal clock.

“Natural sunlight has a positive effect on mood, it increases the production of serotonin and helps regulate the body’s circadian rhythm.

“It’s more common that a medical person, GP or psychiatrist would recommend light therapy as a treatment option to alleviate symptoms of SAD and to regulate your mood.”

So if you can’t get to Australia, maybe it’s worth looking into artificial light methods like a Lumie lamp, light therapy or taking vitamin D supplements.

But this doesn’t actually answer the initial question, will moving somewhere sunnier improve your mental health?

It may seem like an easy solution providing the psychology listed above, but it isn’t as cut and dry as that.

Dr Masud continued: “Moving and relocating is not a comprehensive solution to everyone’s mental health problems.

“Most mental health problems are complex and multi-faceted.

“Moving to a new location might bring its own stresses and challenges. It’s really important to take a holistic approach and consider people’s individual needs”.

Why not have a look into local exercise classes or talking to a professional to find the best solution for you?

Dr Masud suggested that living in London can somewhat be an advantage for those looking to stay more active throughout the colder months, as there is typically better access to a variety of classes or community support groups.

Schoen Clinic offer a range of psychiatrists for specialist mental health care, to find out more visit:

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