Ways to Eliminate S.A.D. This Season
Seasonal Affective Disorder. Darker and colder days are upon us!
So many of us will be spending our days in an office, not noticing that we soon will be suffering from S.A.D., a condition that can cause a long list of maladies including: depression, anxiety, insomnia and weight loss, even if you do not need to! Seasonal Affective Disorder is a different, lighter type of depression. Winter is finally here.
“People who truly have SAD are just as ill as people with Major Depressive Disorder,” says Brenda McMahon, a psychiatry researcher. “They will have non-seasonal depressive episodes, but the seasonal trigger is the most common. Here are the ”Ways to Eliminate S.A.D. This Season”.
During the winter, there simply isn’t enough natural light, causing a drop in serotonin levels in the brain and therefor increasing the likelihood of a depressive episode.
Symptoms of SAD
According to the NHS, symptoms of seasonal affective disorder are very similar to those of normal depression. The only difference is that they occur repetitively at a particularly time of year.
– A persistent low mood
– A loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities
– Feeling irritable
– Low self-esteem
– Feeling stressed
– Reduced sex drive
– Becoming less sociable
Getting more sun on your skin isn’t always an option.
You can banish SAD more ways than you think.
Here’s how to survive winter:
Give yourself a rude awakening
The prospect of a cold shower will make leaving your warm duvet more difficult but hear us out. Exposure to cold activates your sympathetic nervous system and, according to the journal Medical Hypotheses, increases your levels of noradrenaline to help fight feelings of unhappiness.bv Have a warm towel ready for when you jump out!
Chase that high
A morning spent pounding the pavements releases a cocktail of endorphins, anandamide (your body’s version of marijuana’s THC) and dopamine. Together these hormones create an unbeatable high that’ll last all day and, because the dopamine binds to receptors in your brain’s pleasure circuit, it’s addictive. Stock up on the best beginner’s gear and start running for a high that lasts all winter, no comedown.
Join the rat race
Going door-to-door in the comfort of a company car might be your idea of the perfect commute, but it could also be the cause of your winter anxieties. A University of East Anglia study found taking public transport fights your feelings of unhappiness by forcing you to interact with fellow commuters (no matter how grumpy they are). It lessens feelings of loneliness and cheers you up. Honest.
Go Christmas shopping
Take a leaf out of the department stores’ books and get in the holiday spirit early. A Kyoto University study found the smell of pinewood is enough to significantly lower stress levels and relax your anxieties. You can use this as an excuse to buy your Christmas tree early or, if your second name is Scrooge, a pine scented air-freshener works just as well.Take a sunshine supplement
No, not vitamin D. 5HTP (which you can get from Hollandandbarrett.com) is more potent. It’s made from the amino acid tryptophan, which is converted into the neurotransmitter serotonin. Pop two tablets before bed to boost your levels of this happy hormone, fight feelings of depression and wake up smiling – even if it is raining outside.
1. Whole grains and complex carbs
During the winter our appetite increases. Many seek foods that they think will cheer them up but will actually have an opposite effect, leaving you feeling sluggish and down. If you want to go hard on carbs, go for whole grains such as oatmeal or complex carbohydrates like brown rice. These dense carbohydrates have been found to increase serotonin levels. They will also leave you feeling fuller for longer.
A healthy salad isn’t many people’s first choice as a heart-warming winter meal. However, dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale and broccoli are rich in folate and vitamin B12, which have been found to boost serotonin levels.
Numerous studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids found in fish can help fight off depression by boosting production of dopamine and serotonin. Fatty fish are also great sources of vitamin D. What’s more, fish is a great muscle-builder.
A great seasonal vegetable. Full of folate, which plays an important role in the production of red blood cells, sweet potatoes sit lower on the Glycemic Index, helping maintain a steady blood-sugar level than your standard spud. You’ll have more energy and won’t crash shortly afterwards, either.
With the wind howling outside and the fire inside crackling, there’s no better time to put a film on, make yourself a cuppa and start dunking your chocolate. And we’re cool with that, providing you do it right. Many studies have shown that eating dark chocolate can reduce stress-causing hormones, thanks to antioxidants called flavonoids. Pick something that is 75 percent cocoa, and unsweetened. It’s better for you, easier on your teeth and will limit those sudden sugar crashes.
Words: Ted Lane and Robert Hicks