How to treat SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder
How happy did the extra hour in bed make you feel when the clocks changed? Maybe your children ambushed the extra hour (I’m sure it’s easier to explain to children where babies come from than why clocks change!); or maybe that precious extra hour put a smile on your face when you remembered you could go back to sleep for a little longer?
The change in clocks also brings with it the change in light levels. As the days get colder and the nights get darker, you may have also experienced your mood take a dip.
It’s completely understandable and normal to feel a dip when 5.00pm feels more like bed time and your body has to struggle to adjust. Living in Scotland I really notice my energy and general mood take a dip when the clocks first change, especially when my Aussie friends start posting pictures of them on the beach as they come into summer!
During winter you don’t get the same exposure to day light, particularly if you go to work in the dark and come home in the dark. This affects your bodies ability to produce serotonin and vitamin D.
Serotonin is the chemical messenger and regulator that boosts mood, appetite, energy and motivation. Serotonin also influences sex drive, libido, your memory and pain gates.
Lack of serotonin in the body is a key contributor that can lead to depression. If you experience low mood on a regular basis at this time of year you may be experiencing seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD.
AM I SAD?
If some of these feelings seem to happen each year, have a real impact on your life, and improve when the seasons change, you may have seasonal affective disorder.
– I feel like sleeping all the time, or I’m having trouble getting a good night’s sleep
– I’m tired all the time, it makes it hard for me to carry out daily tasks
– My appetite has changed, particularly more cravings for sugary and starchy foods
– I’m gaining weight
– I feel sad, guilty and down on myself
– I feel hopeless
– I’m irritable
– I’m avoiding people or activities I used to enjoy
– I feel tense and stressed
– I’ve lost interest in sex and other physical contact
Source: BC Mental Health
The signs of SAD are akin to depression. However they do differ in that SAD is influenced by the season and therefore you don’t experience the signs and symptoms of SAD at other times of the year. If you have depression you will experience depression regardless of the season.
If you recognise the indicators of SAD here are some helpful things that you can do to bring light back into your inner world…
Get as much day light as possible
Day light naturally produces vitamin D in the body which boosts your energy levels, supports your immune system and keeps your bones healthy. Take short walks, sitting outside with a hot drink and getting out at lunch time. The weather doesn’t have to be warm and sunny for the body to produce vitamin D, it’s all about the light levels you body absorbs.
Exercise and getting the lymphatic system activated can work wonders in many ways. Exercise produces endorphins which are a mood enhancer. Exercise also gives you a mind body connection, focuses the mind and helps to support the quality of your sleep. You don’t have to run marathons, taking a 15 minute brisk walk daily can go a long way to transforming your state of mind.
Eat serotonin rich food
While it may feel like all you want is carbs and sweet things, reach instead for serotonin rich food. Serotonin is made from tryptophan which is an amino acid found in proteins such as poultry, oily fish, beans, baked potatoes, oats, seeds and sweet potato.
Calm the mind
A busy mind filled with thoughts about how you feel is only going to keep you feeling SAD. Use guided mediations or hypnosis downloads daily to help calm your mind. Here is one to get you started;
Don’t suffer in silence
Feeling SAD can be isolating. There may be a temptation to hide away from the world and isolate yourself further. As the saying goes, a problem shared is a problem halved. You may also find when you share with someone how you are feeling, they may have something they would like to share with you, lightening the load on both sides.
Further help turning SAD into Happy
If you need more one to one help then call 07738 672291 to book your free consultation.