SAD -Seasonal Affective Disorder

SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder

This is something that many people suffer from. Our mood can be greatly affected by daylight, and when the nights draw in, SAD symptoms manifest themselves. If you have SAD, you may often feel depressed, lethargic, headachy, antisocial and, worst of all for people trying to lose weight, you probably crave sweet and starchy foods.

SAD isn’t just the winter blues but a type of depression. The cause isn’t fully understood, but it has been suggested that reduced sunlight may disrupt the rhythms that regulate your body’s clock, in much the same way as jet lag.

Symptoms of SAD:

• A persistent low mood
• A loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities
• Irritability
• Feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness
• Feeling lethargic (lacking in energy) and sleepy during the day
• Sleeping for longer than normal and finding it hard to get up in the morning
• Craving carbohydrates and gaining weight
A small number of people will experience these symptoms in phases that are separated by "manic" periods where they feel happy, energetic and much more sociable.

When it starts to go dark, your body automatically wants to go to sleep and releases melatonin, a hormone that also causes depression. Another chemical that affects mood, appetite and sleep is serotonin, which many of you know of as the “feel-good” hormone. Changes in the seasonal balance of these two hormones alter mood. Our brains have less serotonin in winter and more melatonin. People with SAD produce much higher levels of melatonin and have lower serotonin levels than the average person in winter months.

Is it curable?

Not directly, but there are several things you can do to alleviate the symptoms.
• Get outside, especially on sunny days, and make the most of the daylight.
• Exercise as often as you can.
• Get a special lamp that mimics daylight or a “daylight bulb” (often used by embroiderers).
• Increase the amount of light in your home. Cosy rooms and ambient lighting is all very well but it won’t cheer you up.
• Maximise the daylight hours by opening curtains and blinds wide, and clean your windows regularly (it’s good exercise, too).
• Sit near a window during the day, if possible, and make sure that your work environment is well lit.
• Learn how to relax and manage SAD stress better.
• Adapt your diet. Most of us eat different foods in winter; so if you crave those carbs, work them into your diet plan.
• Smile. It takes more facial muscles to smile than to frown, so do it as often as you can. Smiling is infectious.
• Speak to your GP, they may prescribe a selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRIs)

Here is a really useful link to Mind which you may find really helpful - click here