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S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder)

The days are definitely closing in and its getting just that little bit more
difficult to stir myself in the mornings – when the alarm goes off I could
quite happily snatch another hour in bed.
Also, its now dark in the morning when I switch on the kettle for my
morning tea….time for action…..time to stave off those winter blues!

I think the term SAD is so appropriate, because that is just how you feel. For
those of you who know or think you suffer with SAD, you will know what I mean
when I say you are probably dreading the next few months – the months when you
lack energy, feel glum and rather low.
You long for the spring when you can get outside and enjoy the sun’s
rays, feel the warmth of its rays and embrace the daylight.  SAD saps your energy, demotivates you so that
everything becomes an effort.  I think it would be fair to say, that SAD people are perhaps not the best company on grey days?  On top of all that negativity, you probably crave carbohydrates – not the healthy ones of course, but the sweet ones that make you put on weight, (just to add to your problems of low self-esteem)!

SUMMARY OF SYMPTOMS:

  • low mood for most of the day
  • loss of interest in your usual activities
  • drowsiness and indifference (lethargy)
  • needing more sleep and sleeping more than
    usual
  • eating more than usual, especially craving
    carbohydrates, leading to weight gain
  • loss of interest in sex (loss of libido)
  • mood swings and excessive energy in spring and
    summe

 

So what are you to
do?
  Well you could invest in a light box. These boxes contain a seriously bright light bulb which suppresses
the amount of melatonin you produce when it gets dark.  The sleep-wake cycle
occurs naturally when melatonin (the hormone which makes us feel sleepy) is
secreted once it starts to get dark, usually around 10.00 pm.  This helps us to get to sleep.

Melatonin is suppressed once it gets light outside; this coincides with us wanting to wake up.

The light box mimics the daylight outside, so when the daylight hours are shorter during the winter months, the light box
creates an artificial daylight in your home/office, so that your melatonin
levels are prompted to reduce, making you feel much more alert.

 

I tried a light box for the first time last winter and what I noticed was that
not only was I springing out of bed at 6.00 am like I do in the summer months,
but I was able to stay awake much more easily in the evening too.  I definitely felt brighter generally, so I
for one will be plugging my light box on this week.  I keep it by the kettle in the kitchen so
that it is the first thing I switch on whilst I am making my tea in the
morning.

 

Another vital strategy to prevent SAD dominating your life is regular exercise – brisk walking, swimming, running, yoga,
aerobics, dancing, zumba – whatever gets your heart rate pumping – and try to
exercise 4-5 times per week.  This will get your endorphins (happy hormones) moving too.

Comments (2)

  1. Hi Karen
    after I saw you at the cafe, looked at your website, and I’m particularly interested to see the article on SAD. My son has it, I think, so I’ve forwarded it to him. He lives in the North, so it’s more extreme up there.
    All the best
    Roni (one of the groupies)

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