Are you SAD? No, I’m not referring to the sense of being uncool or grumpy, although you may be that too. I’m referring to your ability to fair well during the autumn and winter months.
SAD the acronym for seasonal affective disorder is a type of mini-depression that is caused from lack of sunlight. The symptoms vary but may include fatigue, an increase in food cravings, anxiety, loss of libido and a low mood. It’s anticipated that quite a large percentage of the population experiences SAD but most in such mild severity that the condition often goes undiagnosed.
Some say SAD has a biological benefit. Think about how bees, bears and other furry-clawed animals behave during the colder months. These creatures are hibernators and pretty much sleep their way through the winter. This state of inactivity involves deep rest and the occasional getting up to look for food and go to the toilet. Does this ring any bells? Sound familiar to you? If this is you, you’re either suffering from a serious hangover or it’s seasonal affective disorder.
Current research points to the effect of light on the retina in suppressing or stimulating certain neurotransmitters such as melatonin and serotonin. These two neurotransmitters are responsible for the circadian rhythm. Sleeping during colder months might have ensured the survival of many species whereby conditions would have been difficult to live through and food sources scarce.
So what can we do about alleviating the symptoms? Hypnotherapy and light therapy have become more popular in recent years due to a reluctance to take drugs. Hypnotherapy is useful in the treatment of many types of depression as it works with both the conscious and unconscious mind. The patient can start to recognise the origin of their depression and recognise their patterns of negative thinking. And by helping to create a more positive outlook the body naturally starts to produce increasing levels of serotonin. After all, the mind can’t tell the difference between something real or something imagined.
We are now in Spring with brighter days ahead but when it comes to winter, try to get out in natural sunlight as much as possible, alternatively try a light box, dabble in self-hypnosis or seek out a hypnotherapist. Try a different approach. Don’t think bear, think beaver.
By Natasha Kelly