Updated: Nov 19, 2019
Ever felt down during the long dark days of winter? I have, I do. However, I know to look out for it now and take action. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern and is commonly know as "winter depression", as it tends to be more noticeable and severe during the winter. It is said that 29% of the U.K population experience symptoms of S.A.D. As I say, I have gotten to recognise the signs and I take actions that I know help me fight it but it's important that we are all aware of the Symptoms, Causes and Remedies of SAD.
Symptoms of SAD There are a number of symptoms and you may experience some or most and they can have serious impacts on our day to day lives, activities and relationships.
These can include:
• continual low mood
• lack of interest in normal everyday activities
• feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness
• lacking in energy and sleepy during the day
• sleeping for longer than normal
• finding it hard to get up in the morning
• craving carb's and gaining weight
What causes SAD? Although the exact cause of SAD isn't fully understood, it is often linked to lack of exposure to sunlight during the shorter autumn and winter days. (October - March)
• increase in production of melatonin – melatonin is a hormone that makes you feel sleepy; in ppeople with SAD, the body may produce it in higher than normal levels
• lower production of serotonin –
serotonin is a hormone that affects your mood, appetite and sleep; a lack of sunlight may lead to low serotonin levels.
Treatments for SAD The main treatments are:
exercising regularly be it walking, running, swimming or any exercise you enjoy the most. I recently started boxing training at my local gym. No contact, just the fitness side. It was so enjoyable and although the arms and muscles were a bit sore, it was how I felt mentally afterwards that just stood out to me. I just felt stress free. Exercise obviously improves your general health but it also helps to manage your stress levels. For me, I mix it up. I enjoy running, classes such as body pump or R.P.M and spending some time on weights. It can be whatever you're more comfortable with. And don't get me wrong, it's actually getting to the fitness centre, the class or the gym that is the hardest part but I think I can honestly say that once I've been and finished whatever I do I always think to myself "I'm glad I did that, I feel much better about myself".
Get outside, don't sit indoors -
including getting as much natural sunlight as possible. In today's way of life, we're all guilty of sitting in watching TV, stuck in an office or whatever the case may be. Fresh air and the goodness we get from natural sunlight is one of the best ways to helping with eliminating the symptoms of SAD.
light therapy –
where a special lamp called a light box is used to simulate exposure to sunlight. Your GP would be able to advise on this.
this could be counseling or it could also be talking to a friend, family member. Again, whatever you are most comfortable with. Talking and getting things off our chest is huge in terms of mental health and well-being. *It is not truly known or proven whether Vitamin D can help with the symptoms of SAD but the NHS and other leading medical organisations recommend that everyone should consider taking Vitamin D supplements between the months of October and March due to the lack of natural sunlight available to us.
Hopefully this article will have helped you identify if you are, like 29% of the U.K. population and suffer from the symptoms of S.A.D. Hopefully it will have given you ideas on how to combat this and move on to a happier Autumn and Winter of 2019/20.