As the prospect of a hot BBQ-filled summer seems to be slowly receding due to the persistent rain and lack of sunshine, feelings of despair, irritability and depression can surface in many of us. In some, the symptoms may be so severe that leading a normal life and conducting healthy relationships becomes incredibly difficult and at worst, impossible.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) often referred to as the “winter blues” or “winter depression” affects 1 in 15 Brits every year. It is a type of depression linked to the seasons, in which symptoms are most prevalent and severe during the dark winter months.
The causes of SAD are not completely clear but many believe that we need sunlight to stimulate the production of the chemicals in our brain which make us feel good, such as serotonin, and those which help maintain our body's circadian rhythm (internal clock) such as melatonin.
People who suffer from SAD may experience depression, irritability, sleep problems, lethargy, over-eating, a loss of concentration, anxiety, a loss of libido and frequent mood changes, and may as a result, withdraw and become unsociable.
If you suffer from symptoms of SAD, here are 7 tips you can try, to help boost your mood and bring a little more “sunshine” into your life.
- Light Therapy is regarded as an effective way to combat SAD. The bulb in a light-box is extremely bright, (10 times stronger than an ordinary light bulb). By sitting in front of a light-box for up to 2hrs a day, the intense light mimics the effect of natural sunshine and helps stimulate our bodies to produce our feel-good chemicals.
- Get Outside whenever possible and soak in as much natural light as you are able. Enjoying those little bursts of sunshine can do wonders for how we feel within ourselves.
- Stay Active by walking or going to the gym. Exercise is also a good way of naturally stimulating the production of serotonin, which makes us feel healthier and a whole lot happier.
- Eat a Healthy, Balanced Diet. Healthy food will help boost your mood. Our bodies absorb sunshine, and from it we get vitamin D. Try and eat foods, which provide a good source of vitamin D, such as oily fish or eggs, as this will help replenish your supplies.
- Keep Busy. Take up a new hobby or visit friends and family, so that you have something you can enjoy doing and look forward to. Support from other people will help you get through your most difficult times.
- Try Complementary Therapies such as counselling, psychotherapy and hypnotherapy, as these can help you find effective ways of coping with your symptoms, enabling you to live a more normal and productive life.
- Consult Your Doctor if your symptoms prevent you from living a normal life. A correct diagnosis and an effective treatment plan can go along way to helping you on your road to recovery.
If you suffer from symptoms of SAD and would like to discuss how psychotherapy may help you to cope, please call me to on 07834226025 to book your complimentary 30min consultation.