With winter on the way it’s time to say goodbye to the sun and without so much daylight, many of us become prone to seasonal affective disorder (SAD-Seasonal affective disorder) during the winter months. SAD can drain us of energy and make us feel sad. So how do we prevent SAD in the winter? Find out below.
What is SAD?
Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD, is a type of seasonal depression. It usually begins in the fall and continues through the winter, with more severe symptoms during the months of December, January and February. It often disappears in spring and summer and returns in the fall. Symptoms of SAD include fatigue, persistent low mood, lack of motivation, sleeping more than usual, and feelings of hopelessness and sadness. Historically, we worked just out. 200 years ago 75% of the population worked outdoors now less than 10% work outside.1 It is gradually becoming less and less exposed to natural light. modern lifestyles prevent us from living close to nature, the increase in the night shift has weakened the body’s natural ability to regulate its clock. These lifestyle shifts can lead to minor deficiency problems such as SAD.
What causes SAD?
The exact cause of SAD is not known, however there are several theories. SAD Depends on Sunlight The most popular theory suggests that Seasonal Affective Disorder occurs due to seasonal changes in light. When light hits the receptors in the back of the brain, messages are sent to areas of the brain that control sleep, sexual activity, mood, energy and appetite. If we do not get enough light, as is the case during the winter, these functions may be weakened.
– Disorders in our body clock (circadian rhythms)
– Lack of light during the winter can disrupt our body clock.
– The reduced hours of the day can “deceive” our brain and make us think that it is night time during the day
This can then make us feel more tired and in a low mood. This lack of sunlight can also cause vitamin D deficiency. Lack of sunlight is thought to keep the hypothalamus from functioning properly, leading to circadian rhythm disturbances, which in turn can negatively affect melatonin levels and serotonin. High levels of melatonin When it gets dark our brain produces a hormone called melatonin, which makes us sleep and when daylight comes on again, we stop producing melatonin and wake up. People with SAD tend to produce higher melatonin levels in winter than those without SAD. When someone with high melatonin levels is exposed to bright light, melatonin levels fall back to normal levels.
However, people with SAD still experience the depressive symptoms associated with the condition suggesting that this is not the only cause of SAD. Lower serotonin levels Serotonin is a hormone that regulates our mood, people with depression have lower serotonin levels. Lack of sunlight is thought to be associated with lower levels of serotonin which can cause SAD. 5 natural ways to treat SAD
Phototherapy Light therapy is the most common method of preventing and treating SAD. SAD lamps try to mimic natural daylight by stimulating receptors in the eyes to trigger the release of serotonin. This boost in serotonin is thought to contribute to growth natural sleep cycles and general well-being. SAD lamps must emit a light intensity of at least 2,500 lux to release serotonin. SAD lamps should be placed in our peripheral vision and not just in front of us, the distance from the SAD lamp will depend on the intensity of the light. It is recommended to use SAD lamps in the morning, as this will give you a boost for the whole day and not affect your sleep. Research has shown that lights of different colors can also affect our mood. Blue light has been found to be more beneficial in boosting our mood than green or red light. Blue light is thought to play an important role in our brain’s ability to process emotions. Research suggests that spending more time in blue-lit environments could potentially help prevent SAD. In addition to SAD lamps, clock alarms Sunrise is another way to adjust your circadian rhythms. Similar to SAD lamps, sunrise clocks replicate natural light. So instead of waking up to a car horn, sirens or other sound from a regular alarm clock, you will gradually wake up with increasing light. They take about half an hour to reach their full brightness and often have a soft sound of nature if you need a little excitement to wake up.
Exercise Regular exercise is one of the best ways to fight depression and is now scientifically supported. Exercising for 1 hour a week has been shown to provide the same results as 2.5 hours of light therapy. Try brisk walking or gentle, low-level sports such as yoga.
Vitamin D Supplement Vitamin D has long been used to treat SAD due to its association with light. We get most of our vitamin D from sunlight and It is difficult to get it from our diet without the help of supplements. A study found that taking vitamin D supplementation helped improve depression in people with SAD. This is no coincidence, vitamin D is usually available to us from April to August through the sun, during the winter months vitamin D is less available to us and this is the time when SAD is most likely to make itself felt his presence. Vitamin D appears in brain tissues and increases the growth of new neurons.
Phytotherapy Valerian and balsam are most often used to treat the symptoms of SAD. Research has shown that hypericin, found in balsam grass, interferes with functional changes in the brain caused by depression. Balsam can also help our body absorb nutrients and restore a general sense of well-being. although has the same side effects as drugs like Prozac, speeds up liver function which means it is not recommended in combination with any other medicine (including contraceptives). It can also increase sensitivity to the sun and therefore can not be used in conjunction with light therapy.
Get out If you can, try to increase the amount of natural light you are exposed to. Open your curtains and blinds at home and at work during the day and take short walks outside during your lunch break to try to get as much light as possible. Studies have shown that contact with nature can help reduce heart rate and levels of depression, fatigue and stress. Try a walk in a local park and get away from electronic devices. Forest swimming is a great idea and there are other ways, with which nature can make us happier.