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SAD - Does Your Mood Turn Grey at the Same Time as the Sky?

SAD Seasonal Affected Disorder

What a summer! What a shock! We might be still picking the sand out of the back seat of the car but we are also sewing the labels in the uniforms and with daylight arriving later, evenings coming earlier, and the prospect of an Indian Summer now looking more like hunkering down with an Indian take away - you've got the blues.

It’s not your imagination, SAD, Seasonal Affected Disorder, is now recognised as a problem for many people as a type of depression and is a recognised mental health disorder. This is not something which is triggered by circumstance but can be purely to do with short days resulting in lack of daylight and sunshine. This can leave us depleted of Vitamin D; it can have an affect on levels of melatonin and serotonin stopping the part of the brain called the hypothalamus working properly. The symptoms can include anxiety, lethargy, mood swings and depression. It is also possible that some people are more vulnerable to SAD because of their genes as in some cases it appears to run in the family.

About 3% of the population are estimated to suffer from seasonal affective disorder preventing their normal day to day function. 20% of the UK experience mildly debilitating systems called 'subsyndromal sad' or 'winter blues'. If SAD is viewed as a spectrum, at one end are people not effected at all by seasonal change, a little along are those who get the blues and feel down, and at the extreme people may have to take time off work or limit their daily routines.

During the winter months our energy can be depleted and everything may seem like a huge effort. Even everyday things can get on top of us. In a natural environment we would rest more during the winter, sleep longer hours and build up our energy reserves in time for the spring. We would hibernate! In our busy modern society we rest less and do more.

Perhaps now is the time, as we pack away the swimsuits and flip flops, to look at what we can do to get a better balance to our lives. We all want something; to feel fitter, to feel more relaxed, a better relationship, perhaps a better job, maybe to gain confidence. But fear not, there are a number of actions that can help in bringing you through the autumn and winter and into the spring with a positive focus.

We perhaps need to calm ourselves, to have some ‘me time’ - calming and meditation help to activate, restore and balance natural energies. They may help prevent disorders and promote natural self healing, relieve depression and invigorate the immune system.

You can also do some simple things to help yourself at home

  • Try to get outside in the day light for 30 mins a day – even if its in your lunch hour

  • Walk the kids to school

  • Give yourself some quiet time, turn off the TV and radio

  • Have a soak in a hot bath to relax

  • Eat healthy snacks and not sugary comfort foods

  • Give yourself an hour at the weekend to relax totally, go for a massage, take a walk, perhaps just go out by yourself and have a coffee and chill.

  • Look back at the end of your day and find one positive thing that happened to focus on

And remember that SAD can go just as quickly as it arrived - with the appearance of a sunny day, the smile of a friend or the realisation that you can have a measure of control over your own mood and wellbeing.

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