Posted on Thursday, 4th October 2018
According to the NHS, the exact cause of Seasonal Affect Disorder or SAD, isn’t known. But the theory is that the lack of natural sunlight in winter months can do three things to our bodies; increase the production of melatonin (which makes us feel sleepy), decrease the production of serotonin (which in turn has been linked to feelings of depression), and affect the body’s circadian rhythm (which signals to us when to sleep and wake).
If you are concerned you may have SAD and it is having an impact on your life, then you may want to see your GP.
While not everyone has Seasonal Affective Disorder, many people describe themselves as being prone to the ‘winter blues’ and definitely noticing changes in their mood when winter hits.
There are several things you can do to try and combat the effects winter has on some of us.
If the reason for feeling low is lack of sunlight then the first thing to do is make a concerted effort to get as much as possible. This can be difficult to do if you’re in an office all day but every little helps. Get outside at lunch time, step outside for 5 minutes when having your morning coffee, get off one stop earlier on your commute to have longer walk outside.
These suggestions might be seem very unattractive in the cold winter months, as you may be tempted to stay indoors in the warm even more- but try and remember all the benefits.
As well as getting outside, when you’re inside, try and sit near a window where possible. Being exposed to natural light can also be very helpful.
Another way to expose yourself to light is to invest in a light box. They provide a very bright light, which means you don’t need as much time being exposed to it as natural light. Being in front of one of these lamps first thing in the morning, or even throughout the day while getting on with other things, can help alleviate symptoms that SAD can cause. Some people with certain conditions are not recommended to use light boxes, so if in doubt, speak to your GP.
Darker mornings are one of the more difficult things about the winter. There are sunrise alarm clocks available which slowly light up for when your alarm is set, to mimic a sunrise, helping your body to wake up more naturally, with light, rather than with a loud noise in the dark.
Connecting with loved ones is one of the best medicines. Talk to friends, make plans, feel connected. Sometimes it may feel very difficult to do, but it will help.
You may find it helpful talking about how you’re feeling with someone outside of your life. Talking through how you’re feeling, looking at things more deeply, all with someone who can remain objective and non judgemental can be valuable in any situation.
If this is something you’d be interested in, do get in touch.