As the clocks go down and the colder temperatures sink in, the fact that winter is on the way can not be concealed.
For some, a quick walk and cuddling by the fire while watching the snow outside is something to look forward to. For others, however, there is nothing worse than the winter time – especially for people with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
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What is seasonal affective disorder?
SAD is a type of depression that occurs at the same time each year, usually in winter. "As winter approaches, some people will feel less depressed, tired and less motivated to stay active and engage in social activities," says Dr. Abby Hyams. "SAD is due in part to lower sun exposure during the shorter autumn and winter days."
🙁 According to the NHS, around two million people in the UK and more than 12 million people in northern Europe.
What are the symptoms of SAD?
Signs of seasonal mood disorders are similar to symptoms of depression, but only occur during the winter months. Here's what to look for:
- A lasting deep mood from autumn or winter.
- Lack of interest in socializing
- Feelings of desperation.
- Lack of energy.
- Overeating and weight gain (there is often a craving for carbohydrates).
- Increased sleep and daytime tiredness.
What are the best treatments for SAD?
There is no cure for SAD, but there are many ways to ward off the symptoms:
✔️ Embrace natural light: The effects of natural light make people feel better with SAD. Even winter days can be bright, especially around lunchtime. Take a short walk outdoors. Wearing pale clothing that reflects natural light can also be beneficial.
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✔️ exercise: Although the dark evening and the cold weather make you want to hide under your covers, it is best to stay physically active during the winter. This can help lift your mood and boost your energy.
✔️ Avoid stress: In winter, people with SAD feel stressed. Therefore you should avoid it as much as possible. Plan all important events in the summer months, not winter, and try to use stress management tips like meditation and yoga when you feel overwhelmed.
✔️ eat well: SAD sufferers often want carbohydrate-rich foods such as pasta, bread and potatoes. Although carbohydrates are necessary, it is important that they are consumed as part of a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
✔️ Use a light box: "Your family doctor may recommend you a light therapy," says dr. Hyams. "This uses a lightbox to simulate sunlight and balance some of the reduced light in winter."
Traveling: If you can afford it, a holiday in a sunnier climate can be a very effective way to reduce the symptoms of SAD. However, it is a good idea to speak with your GP first, as your condition may temporarily deteriorate when you return to the UK.
⚠️ In more severe cases, Dr. Hyams, your family doctor may recommend talking therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapies, counseling or even medications to help you survive the winter months.