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Make a New Year’s Resolution to deal with Seasonal affective disorder!

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What is SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or sometimes known as winter depression, is a mood disorder which often gets worse when daylight is in short supply, with its effects tending to peak in December, January and February. 

But how do you know that you are suffering from it? And is there anything you can do to relieve the symptoms?

Daylight plays an important role in all our lives by helping to maintain our sleep patterns, our appetite, body temperature, sex drive, overall mood and physical activity. A lack of daylight therefore can affect our overall general health and well-being!

In the UK, during those foggy and often rainy winter months, the climate is sometimes bad enough to significantly slow these important internal mechanisms down, increasing feelings of lethargy.

Problems with sleep, concentration and overall mood

This can all lead, in turn, to problems with sleep and concentration and issues when coping with all those everyday stresses that we normally take in our stride. Ultimately you may end up with a low overall mood, overeating issues and potential illness.

Symptoms of SAD

The specific symptoms of SAD can include:

  • Persistent low mood
  • Greater irritability
  • A feeling of despair, guilt and worthlessness
  • Loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities
  • Lethargy (lacking energy), tiredness during the day
  • A craving for carbohydrates with weight issues
  • Sleeping longer than normal and finding it hard to get out of bed

What actually causes SAD?

The exact cause of SAD is not yet understood, but many think it is linked to reduced exposure to sunlight during the shorter autumn and winter days.

The theory is that a lack of sunlight could stop a part of the brain, known as the hypothalamus, from working properly. This can then impact upon the following:

  • The production of melatonin which is a hormone making you feel sleepy, people with SAD seem to produce melatonin higher than normal amounts.
  • A lack of sunlight may lead to lowered serotonin levels. This is linked to feelings of depression. Serotonin is a natural hormone that affects your mood, appetite and sleep patterns.
  • The body's internal clock, called the circadian rhythm, can be disrupted. The body uses sunlight to actually time various important functions. These include waking up, so lower light levels during the winter are thought to disrupt your body clock leading to symptoms of SAD.
  • Some may be more vulnerable to SAD due to their genes, as some cases do seem to run in families.

What to do about SAD?

As it’s the start of the New Year:-

  • Maybe you could make a New Year’s resolution to eat more healthily!
  • Try a natural mood boosting remedy, such as 5-HTP! This contains the naturally occurring amino acid 5-HTP, extracted from Griffonia Seed, which helps the body to manufacture Serotonin, the brains natural mood enhancing substance.
  • Make another New Year’s resolution to get more exercise!
  • Take a holiday somewhere sunnier than Great Britain!

If in any doubt, consult your GP if you need further help in dealing with any symptoms that you may have.

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