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How can you ease the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD)?

General practice
Do you wake up feeling tired and then struggle through the day with no energy?
Do you feel fed up?
You may be suffering from seasonal affective disorder!

How can you tell if you have seasonal affective disorder?

Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that begins in autumn or early winter and lasts until spring.
Symptoms are very similar to those of depression, including a persistent low mood and sadness, a loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities, intense tiredness and low energy as soon as you wake up and even after sleep, irritability and other mood changes, sleep problems and weight loss or weight gain.

Is seasonal affective disorder just another name for the winter blues?

Seasonal affective disorder is very different from the winter blues that people can sometimes experience. The winter blues only cause temporary mood changes and you can generally still go about your daily activities. In contrast, seasonal affective disorder can have a serious impact on your daily life and work as well as relationships with family and friends.

What causes seasonal affective disorder?

The specific cause of seasonal affective disorder remains unknown. However, the combination of shorter daylight hours and less sunlight in autumn and winter seems to be an important factor.

How can you overcome seasonal affective disorder, or at least ease its symptoms?

Light therapy is an effective treatment for seasonal affective disorder.
It involves exposing your skin and eyes to a bright light that mimics natural sunlight. Treatment sessions are in specially-equipped rooms and last from 30 minutes to one hour. Light therapy lamps are also available to buy for personal use and offer a daily and more accessible option. Light plays an important role in regulating our body's biological clock. It controls several bodily functions that follow specific patterns, such as our sleep-wake cycle, as well as the secretion of various hormones according to the time of day.
When light enters the eye, it is transformed into electrical signals that, when sent to the brain, act on neurotransmitters. One of these, serotonin, sometimes called the ‘happiness hormone’, regulates mood and activates the production of melatonin. This hormone is responsible for sleep-wake cycles and absorbed during the day and secreted at night. Hormonal imbalances caused by a lack of sunlight can be significant enough to cause symptoms related to depression.

In conclusion

Remember that sport and exercise as well as a healthy, balanced diet are great for your mental well-being during winter. Try to also get as much natural light as possible, for example, by enjoying higher altitudes closer to the sun.