Why does winter make me SO blue?

Winter is officially here, and while the cold, dark season makes getting up and going about your business more difficult for most people, for some it triggers depression Naver trailer. We’re talking about Seasonal Affective Disorder – also known as SAD.

What Is SAD?

SAD is a condition that occurs at the same time every year. Typically, symptoms start in the autumn and continue into the winter months, affecting a person’s mood and draining their energy.

Typical symptoms include feelings of:

  • Hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Loss of energy
  • Heavy feeling in the arms or legs
  • Social withdrawal
  • Oversleeping
  • Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Changes in appetite and cravings (not eating enough, or over eating)
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Weight gain

What Causes SAD?

The disorder isn’t fully understood, however there’s plenty evidence to suggest that genetics in SAD sufferers plays a big role in the disruption of brain functions and mood hormones, especially serotonin and melatonin. Serotonin controls appetite, sleep, memory, temperature, mood and other behavioural functions, while Melatonin is responsible for controlling sleep and wake cycles.

The bottom line: For people who have SAD, a change in temperature and drop in sunlight can potentially put their internal body clock out of sorts.

Who’s Most at Risk?

Women are more likely to develop SAD than men, and it’s more common in people who live far from the equator – probably because light is more disrupted during winter and summer. Also, people with a family history of SAD, or people who have bipolar disorder or depression have a higher risk for SAD.

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Can SAD Be Treated?

For people with mild symptoms, simply spending time outdoors or in the sunshine can be enough! So, pull back the curtains, get outside and do a bit of exercise – it’ll do you wonders!

There are herbal supplements and remedies that can help relieve symptoms, but it isn’t clear how well they work for SAD. It’s important to talk to your doctor before trying any herbal or natural remedies, so you can be sure they won’t react with or affect any other medication you might be taking.

  • St. John’s Wort is a herb traditionally used to treat a variety of problems, including depression. However, it can interfere with a lot of prescription medications
  • Omega-3 supplements can help relieve symptoms and they have other health benefits too. Top sources of omega-3s include oily fish such as herring, salmon, mackerel and sardines. Omega-3s are also found in certain grains and nuts and grains, but it may not have the same effect as fish oil.
  • Melatonin. This is a natural hormone which helps regulate mood. Changes in season can affect the level of melatonin in your body.
  • Acupuncture
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Massage therapy

Sources: Mayoclinic, iol.co.za