We don’t need an expert to tell us that the weather can have a significant impact on our mood. Waking up to a rainy and dark morning can leave us feeling gloomy while the feeling the sun stream through the window onto our faces can send us off with a skip in our step!
If you have noticed that the darker, longer days and colder weather leave you feeling down and fed up year after year, then it may be that seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is to blame.
Typically occurring during the dark and cold winter months, SAD is a form of depression that is usually remedied during the spring and summer months. Symptoms of SAD can include some or all of the following:
Historically SAD has been disregarded as a genuine form of depression, and it’s suffers written off as being merely moody or grumpy. Recent study and research, however, has concluded that it is, in fact, a real form of depression that occurs in direct relation to a person’s hormonal state, exposure to natural light and temperature which can both influence the body’s production of melatonin.
If you feel that you are feeling down during the winter months, then the first step should be to visit your doctor. The symptoms of SAD are very similar to other types of depression, so it’s important to rule those out first and to get a formal diagnosis. Once you have done this, you will be happy to know that there are some things you can do to ease the symptoms of SAD.
1 – Go for a walk
Being outside in the natural daylight, even if it’s cloudy, can be a big help. So try and motivate yourself to get up and outside every day – ideally within a couple of hours of waking up!
2 – Light, light, light
Light therapy is a proven treatment for SAD but sitting and staring at your kitchen halogens won’t do the job! You need to use a proper light box that will provide you with the exact type & brightness of light that will help.
3 – Get talking
There have been numerous studies carried out, and it has been shown that ‘talk therapy’ can be just as effective as light therapy in treating SAD sufferers.
4 – Pop a pill
It may not be your first choice for treatment but for those that suffer severely and repeatedly from SAD taking an antidepressant may help control both mood and energy. Speaking to your doctor will help you decide if this is the right option for you.
5 – Exercise
It’s common knowledge that getting regular exercise can alleviate the symptoms of general, non-seasonal depression. Research has shown that combining this with light therapy can be a highly efficient way of treating SAD. So even if you don’t feel like it, do your best to get up off the sofa and go for a short jog or walk.
6 – Carbohydrates
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays an essential role in regulating mood. Complex carbohydrates help to maintain serotonin levels so make sure to include them in your diet.
Though the cold and dark winter can leave many of us longing for spring, it’s important not to just accept SAD as being an unavoidable side effect of winter. If you are proactive and take action when you feel the first symptoms, you may be able to change your whole experience of the season for the better.
If you suffer from seasonal affective disorder and would like more advice on how to avoid or treat it over the coming winter months then please get in touch with me today for more information.