It’s the most wonderful time of the year for some, but for others the winter months and Christmas means only one thing – a period of deep depression. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD for short, is a reaction to the reduction in sunshine and daylight hours that happens during winter as the days become shorter. It causes a person, who at a different time of the year such as Spring or Summer might be perfectly happy, to fall into a state of depression and gain a sense of hopelessness throughout winter time. One of the reasons this happens is because of a drop of serotonin levels in the brain which leaves us feeling unhappy, causes our energy levels to drop, and puts us in an irritable and generally bad mood.
The symptoms of SAD disorder or winter depression are much the same as the symptoms of regular depression. You might feel more tired or fatigued than usual, have a frequent urge to cry, have difficulty concentrating on things, start overeating or underrating, and even feel physical aches and pains in your body. Relieving symptoms can be difficult but you should try and make things as easy as possible for yourself. To help you along here are a few things you can do to fight seasonal depression.
1. Light Therapy – Artificial light boxes are a great way to trick the mind into thinking there is daylight when there isn’t. It is recommended that you spend about 30 minutes a day sitting in front of a light box in order for it to take affect, so if you are sitting at your desk doing work or reading then this is the perfect time to do it.
2. Aromatherapy – If light therapy doesn’t do the trick, try aromatherapy instead. Essential oils can positively influence the areas of the brain that are responsible for mood regulation, so put a couple of drops on your pillow before you sleep or add some into a hot bath for ultimate relaxation.
3. Get Outside – Since SAD disorder occurs due to a lack of light, you should try your best to to optimise the light you do have in a day. Whenever you have an opportunity, get outside and walk around in the daylight, soaking up the sun (even if it’s hiding behind clouds!). If you are stuck in work all day, make sure to go for a walk on your lunch break and get your light fix that way.
4. Travel – Go to a hot country at least once over the Winter period, the sunshine break will give you the light injection you need, and it might just be enough to tide you over for the rest of the dark months.
5. Take Vitamin D – Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to seasonal depression, so take a supplement throughout winter to give yourself the best chance of fighting the depression.