28 Feb Are You SAD in the Winter? – A Guide to Seasonal Affective Disorder
Do you find that you get more depressed in the winter seasons? Often coined ‘the winter blues’, you may find that the cold months and lack of sunlight really make you feel down, especially if you are located far from the equator. This has recently been labeled a genuine condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), affecting around 1% of men. It has been classed as a legitimate form of depression that affects people seasonally and showcases similar symptoms to regular depression. This kind of condition can have damaging effects on your relationships both personal and professional and your physical and mental health. The reason for the disorder is that the lack of sunlight means that the body’s circadian rhythm is disrupted, followed by an overproduction of melatonin, which makes you feel sleepy, and an underproduction of serotonin, the happy hormone.
But how do you recognize it and what do you do to treat it?
If you have found that you present any of the following symptoms, you may want to consider talking to your doctor. If you constantly feel fatigued and want to sleep all day, or you feel like carrying out daily tasks is an effort due to your tiredness, you may be experiencing the first stages. Often this is coupled with appetite changes, where you may like you crave sugary foods or starchy snacks, accompanied by weight gain. Strangely, people who suffer from SAD often complain of unexplainable aches and pains in the muscles and joint. Equally, you may notice changes in your mood such as irritability, low sex drive, feeling more stressed and overwhelmed, with an inherent feeling of despair and hopelessness. You may find yourself acting differently such as becoming more avoidant, wanting to spend time alone without people, feeling apathetic toward activities you usually enjoy and people you usually like to keep company with. Feelings of sadness and guilt are often associated with these emotions too. All these indicators point toward Seasonal Affective Disorder when you only seem to feel this way in the darker winter months.
There are a few ways to treat SAD, both with medication and without. The first is to try and get as much sunlight as possible when it is available. During light hours, try to spend your time outside, maybe working outside or even taking short breaks to go for walks in the sunshine. You will want to also make sure you try to increase natural light in your home and workspace, placing yourself closest to big windows. There has been the development of a new light which mimics the sun’s rays, which has proven to help people with this disorder.
Exercising regularly helps to produce more hormones in your body that help to combat SAD. By getting the body moving, you increase serotonin development in the brain and it also releases endorphins. Exercise is a good way to deal with many forms of depression but it can be hard to encourage yourself to do it when you feel overwhelmed and down. Start by taking short walks outside.
Reach out to people who can help you. Try talking to your friends and family and ask for their support, maybe in helping you exercise such as accompanying you on a walk. If you feel like you need more support, talk to a doctor about medication and other methods to help combat the disorder.
You can also try taking a natural supplement such as ‘Brain Gain’ which helps to promote natural harmony in the body and mind, bringing your body into rhythm, while boosting energy and cognitive processing.