Most of us are aware of something called Seasonal Adjustment Order or SAD, and have probably in the depths of another dark, endless winter wondered whether we are suffering from it.
Winters can be a very challenging time and it is easy to suffer from low mood during the dark, cold months. The media over the past few years has been highlighting the “most depressing day of the year” Apparently Blue Monday is the 3rd Monday in January, or not, if the Guardian is right.
SAD is a mood disorder that happens during specific times of the year, normally winter. Symptoms include an increased need to sleep, tiredness, depression and a tendency to over eat. The medical causes are not clear. Theories range from a lack of serotonin to the over-production of melatonin in dim light conditions.
Countries with lower light levels are worst affected. In Finland the rate of SAD is 9.5%. Surprisingly the Icelandic people seem to not be too affected by SAD, possible as a result of the high levels of fish they eat, which has a high Vitamin D content.
Light Therapy appears to be an effective treatment for many. This involves sitting in front of a very bright lightbox most often emitting ‘full spectrum’ white light for 30-60 minutes per day. Read a personal account here.
Even if you do not suffer from SAD here are a few ideas that could raise your spirit.
5 tips to beat the Winter Blues
This causes mood enhancing chemicals to be released and will generally increase your energy and mood. Walking is a good option giving the added benefit of being out in the light.
As temping as it is to stuff yourself with carbohydrates and comfort food it could be far more useful to resist and stick to the well established rules of a healthy diet – plenty of fruit and veg, fish (particularly oily fish), wholegrains, beans, pulses and lean meat. Try vegetable soups, casseroles, and plenty of garlic.
Vitamin D can help boost Serotonin levels. A fish Oil supplement could also be helpful. A general multi vitamin and mineral supplement may also help. See a qualified nutritionist for expert help.
Try to get outside as much as you can and , if possible expose your skin to achieve maximum benefit form the available light. Lightboxes are now generally available to help if you feel you need them.
Book some concerts, theatre or sporting events that you can look forward to. Pin the tickets somewhere visible to remind yourself of what you have to look forward to.
We are mammals so probably do need to sleep more in the winter. So maybe that feeling of wanting to hibernate is OK. Get a good novel, watch those DVDs you have sitting on the shelf, phone a relative or friend. Stay in and make the most of it. Winter will be over soon .
This website contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such.
© 2016 Arieh Kronenberg