Seasonal Affective Disorder: Hunting Down the Sunlight Instead of Hibernating by Chrissy Jenkinson

Seasonal Affective Disorder: Hunting Down the Sunlight Instead of Hibernating by Chrissy Jenkinson

Is it possible to live with the ‘Winter Blues’ without having to move house?  For those with seasonal affective disorder that presents as a form of depression, the further north you are, the more likely you are to potentially be affected. SAD affects from 1.4% of people in Florida to 9.9% in Alaska; of these four out of five people who have SAD are women. Although the main trigger is reduced daylight hours, the dropping temperatures and weak sunlight have been known to exacerbate symptoms. The most recent study undertaken by the University of Glasgow discovered that symptoms are present in women all year round, more severe during the winter. appearing when temperatures dip in the summer. In addition, women experienced more tiredness in the long summer days than men. It confirmed not only that women are at a higher risk of seasonal depression than men, but that temperature was a serious predictor of low mood and the loss of interest in normal everyday activities.

Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Of the reported symptoms of women, the most common were: fatigue combined with over sleeping, chronic low mood, strong cravings for carbohydrates and sweet foods which inevitably resulted in weight gain and of particular concern is the social withdrawal and wish to hibernate during these periods. What is clear, is that SAD has a very real impact on day to day life and the productivity of an individual. According to the National Institute for Mental Health, a seasonal recurring pattern of the symptoms of major depression  over two consecutive periods is necessary for a diagnosis.  Prescribed treatments by clinicians currently include: Vitamin D, light therapy, medication and psychotherapy but you can also help yourself to keep on moving during winter, look closely at your diet and by doing what makes you happy.

Self-Care and Motivation

Only you decide what to do if the season is getting you down? How will you cope with low motivation and fatigue? Try eating a healthy diet with plenty of green, leafy vegetables and fruit known to boost your mood and well-being. Try keeping active in a few different ways in order to maintain a level of activity all year round, not just when the weather and the daylight hours are on your side. By staying mobile, socializing and keeping up with regular outings, you can help yourself and others to lessen the impact on your mood, thereby keeping the feelings of despair, guilt and hopelessness at bay. What are you waiting for?

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