As the clocks go back, research has shown that one in three people in the UK suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). According to the findings, women are 40 percent more likely than men to experience symptoms of this recurrent psychological condition sometimes referred to as “winter depression”
The condition varies in severity. Some patients have milder symptoms and will subsequently be diagnosed with a subsyndromal type of SAD (S-SAD) commonly referred to as the “winter blues”
Symptoms and causes of SAD
SAD tends to present as Autumn and Winter approach. Our brain is exposed to less natural light reducing exposure to optimal levels of Vitamin D3. This has the capacity to disrupt the brain’s ability to produce melatonin and serotonin and this changes the body’s circadian rhythm. This action results in a wide range of symptoms, which can include the following:
· Increased sleepiness
· Overeating/carbohydrate cravings
· Lack of energy
· Low mood, irritability, anxiety
· Social withdrawal
· Difficulty concentrating
Natural Remedies for Seasonal Affective Disorder
Light Therapy Blue light in the mornings is essential; there is a range of light boxes which can support the lack of light – consistent light therapy can significantly assist with symptoms
Nutritional support Vitamin D3, combined with K2 for absorption, taken at night time through a liposomal format is ideally recommended – many forms of D3 are poorly absorbed.
Diet Balancing blood sugar through regular meals and nutrient-dense choices – omega 3 oils are critical at this time of year. Avoid processed foods that are low in nutrients. Increase our intake of dark, green leafy vegetables (lightly cooked) and sources of iodine (fish/seaweed/sea vegetables)
Exercise Research investigating the impact of aerobic exercise on symptoms of SAD found that 20 minutes of pedaling on a stationary bike was as effective as light therapy in producing a significant reduction in symptoms. It helps the release of endorphins, and regular exercise can increase serotonin levels in the brain. The timing of exercise is important. For those with SAD, exercising at night is not recommended because it could cause a phase-delay in the onset of melatonin release during the following night.
Self-help Finding ways to reduce stress is also of benefit in preventing the symptoms of SAD or at least in reducing their severity. Some methods could include meditation on deeper truths, walking, and intentionally focusing on the beauty and detail in ordinary things. Set goals that benefit you and your wellbeing and over a period of time, as you start to improve, you can strive for bigger, more challenging goals. Create a gentle daily routine. You may even consider taking a few minutes to meditate every morning, which will give you time for yourself and set you up for the day.