Seasonal Depression and how to minimise symptoms
Seasonal Depression, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD for short, is a form of depression that typically impacts people during the winter months when exposure to sunlight and temperature changes naturally occur.
Research indicates that about six per cent of the population suffer from SAD. One in ten of us experience subsyndromal SAD, a milder form of seasonal depression also called the ‘winter blues’. And, though the disorder can affect both men and women, it is more common among women.
Symptoms of seasonal depression include:
- Inability to focus or concentrate
- Increased weight gain
- Increased appetite
- Social withdrawal
- Moodiness, irritability
- Lower sexual drive
Though some people confuse SAD as simply moodiness, it is a real form of depression that is dependent on an individual’s hormonal state, as well as seasonal characteristics like exposure to light and temperature.
If you or a loved one are affected by seasonal depression, here are three ways you can reduce the symptoms that impact the quality of life.
While the temperatures outside might be a bit harsher than you would like, it is still a great idea to get out, get exposed to as much light as possible. Our bodies need sunlight to boost our levels of vitamin D. Among other things; a vitamin D deficiency has links to mood swings, headaches and fatigue.
Use A SAD Light
When the sun refuses to appear, and the weather is too miserable to spend much if any time outside, the use of a SAD light can help reduce the symptoms of seasonal depression.
SAD lights are also called light therapy boxes, and the light they produce mimics natural outdoor light. Light therapy affects brain chemicals linked to mood and sleep, like serotonin and melatonin, easing SAD symp[toms.
Eat More Produce
Feelings of anxiety are common among those suffering from seasonal depression. Still, according to Dr Uma Naidoo of Harvard Medical School, relief may be found at the end of your folk. Fruits and vegetables are a rich source of essential nutrients like magnesium and zinc that ease anxiety and make people feel calmer. While you may feel like eating starchy comfort foods like bread and pasta, your best bet is to load up on as many whole foods as you can.
While the cold, wet weather is likely to have most of us dreaming about spring, winter does not have to be an emotional trial. By following these tips, you may be able to lessen your SAD symptoms and get through winter unscathed.
If you or a loved one is currently feeling overwhelmed by SAD symptoms, and you feel as if your relationship is suffering, please contact me today. I would be pleased to discuss how couples counselling could help.