If you notice your sunny disposition starts to turn frosty as winter approaches, you may be experiencing seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Here’s how to banish those winter blues and stay sunny side up all year round.
What is SAD?
SAD is a form of clinical depression. The possible symptoms present in SAD and non-seasonal depression are the same, but SAD tends to reoccur every year and follows a pattern of onset during the winter months and remission in spring. This contrasts with non-seasonal depression, which can occur at any time and is often in response to stressful or upsetting life events.
What causes SAD?
There are numerous theories that seek to explain what the probable causes of SAD are:
- Some say reduced sunlight disrupts the circadian rhythms that regulate the body clock, telling us when it’s time to sleep and wake up.
- Others say SAD is related to melatonin which is a sleep-related hormone. The production of melatonin actually increases during the long winter nights.
- Others point to serotonin, a neurotransmitter, as when people are depressed they often have lower levels of serotonin.
How to beat the winter blues
Try these top tips to get fit, feel great and stay positive.
- Become more active by doing positive activities: individuals withdraw from things they would usually enjoy doing. Turn this around by engaging in a pleasurable activity. Keeping up with your exercise and staying fit is an especially good pattern to continue.
- Learn to recognise what leads to different behaviour: a sense of foreboding and dread can be common even before winter hits, and this way of thinking keeps you feeling down. Learn to combat these feelings with positive responses.