Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder – SAD
How do you feel about Autumn and Winter? Do the shorter days and longer nights make you feel warm and cozy at the thought of lighting the fire and snuggling inside with a book and a blanket? Do you love cold crisp snow? Or do you dread the thought of too much cold as well as too much darkness? Are you suffering with SAD? Can you beat Seasonal Affective Disorder SAD?
Most of us are affected by changing seasons. The seasons can affect our emotions, our habits, our physical wellbeing. It is often usual to feel more cheerful and energetic when skies are blue, the sun is shining and days are longer. Everything looks beautiful under a blue sky. Conversely in darker colder days we can often find that we eat more or sleep longer. For some people the changing emotions can be severe and this is when you may find you are suffering with Seasonal Affective Disorder.
What is S.A.D.?
Seasonal affective disorder – SAD – is a complex depressive illness thought to be triggered by the lower levels of sunlight during the winter months. This affects our hormones melatonin and serotonin which are the hormones responsible for regulating sleep and happy feelings. SAD is a type of depression which comes and goes and is linked to seasons. Symptoms tend to be more noticeable during winter.
SAD has been likened to having your own personal portable black cloud hovering above you during the cooler, darker months.
SAD affects and estimated 10 – 15% of the UK population in some way. In the northern hemisphere, as many as 1 in 3 of us suffer with the winter blues. The actual symptoms of SAD affect around two million people in the UK, that’s about 6% of the population or 1 in 15 people, between September and April. It is about three times more common in women than in men, yet less common in children and older adults, though it can affect anyone. People who live close to the equator extremely rarely suffer with SAD as the days are constantly long with much bright sunshine.
Where did SAD come from?
Did you know that experts believe that SAD is residue from thousands of years ago when people would have needed to conserve energy. Ten thousand years ago, it was greatly useful to slow down during the winter. In modern times our lives no longer follow the natural pattern of the seasons. We are expected to keep going 24/7 all year round.
Our bodies may be trying to tell us to slow down and rest, but how many of us can actually do that? We have electricity to allow us to keep going as long as we want. We have caffeine and other stimulants which gives a false sense of being awake. Most people fight the natural rhythms of the body on a daily basis as it is what is expected in this modern world
How do you know if you have SAD?
There are many symptoms of SAD.
- feelings of despair, worthlessness, low self esteem
- persistent low mood
- more tearful
- feeling more stressed or anxious
- tendency towards comfort eating
- sleeping more and finding it harder to get up in the mornings
- finding it difficult to concentrate
- being less active than normal
- loss of pleasure or interest in your usual activities.
You may feel some or all of the symptoms. People can feel them periodically or constantly. Many of us will feel some or all of these things at times. The question is are these affecting you much deeper between September to April? Most importantly are they stopping you from living your life as fully as you usually do or would like?
What can you do? How can you beat SAD?
There are various things you can try yourself to beat SAD. The NHS recommends
- going outside and getting as much natural sunlight as you can
- when you are inside try and sit near the window so you are in natural light
- make your home and place of work as bright and airy as possible – open windows to let in fresh air (depending what the outside temperature is)
- stay away from stressful situations where possible
- eat as healthy and balanced a diet as you can
- stay active – don’t let the colder weather prevent you from doing your usual exercise, especially outside in natural daylight.
You could also try Brain Working Recursive Therapy – BWRT® a transformational therapy which can help you replace negative limiting emotions with how you would rather feel. How wonderful would it be to be free of the symptoms of SAD. Wouldn’t it feel liberating to be able to live your life to the fullest regardless of time of year. How fantastic would it be to feel positive about your life all year round. If you are ready to change, BWRT® can help you achieve this. Have a look at BWRT-Dorset and contact me now to arrange an initial discussion of how you can move on.