Have you ever felt gloomy in the fall and Â winter months? You find yourself longing for sunshiny weather and long warm days. Maybe you daydream about a lazy July day, laying in a hammock on the beach, soaking up the sunâ€™s heat and rays. And then you probably snap out of it, kick yourself for being so silly, and try to get back to work.
But perhaps you shouldnâ€™t be so quick to dismiss your daydreams about sunlight. Studies have shown - seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is a legitimate disorder that affects people with normal mental health. During the the winter, people suffering from SAD may experience extreme depression. Depending on location, over 14% of those living in the U.S. may suffer from a form of the disorder on a yearly basis (with the percentage being highest in regions with extreme drops in sunlight during the winter months).
Studies indicate that SAD stems from a lack of exposure to sunlight. Regular sunlight exposure is necessary for maintaining the bodyâ€™s internal clock, melatonin levels (a hormone which affects mood and sleep), and serotonin (a chemical that effects mood). Those suffering from SAD may experience depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, weight gain, and social withdrawal.
Fortunately, the winter blues are treatable. Although there are prescription drugs for SAD, the best treatment may be alternative. Many SAD sufferers use one (or more) of the following methods to naturally combat their foul winter moods:
- Specialized light therapy boxes. These special lamps mimic the rays of the sun and trick the brain into thinking it is experiencing sunlight.
- Purposeful exposure to sunlight, even though itâ€™s cold outside. (Open the blinds! Go on a walk!)
- Regular exercise. Exercise has been proven to boost the moods of those suffering from depression.
- Supplements. St. Johnâ€™s wort, melatonin, and omega-3 fatty acids are all available in supplement form and have been shown to help combat depression. (You can Buy Vitamins, Supplements, Herbs, Minerals and many more Nutritional Products Online at healthdesigns.com.)
So pay attention to your body. Next time youâ€™re feeling grumpy on a rainy January day remember that youâ€™re not alone and that the funk youâ€™re in is both temporary and treatable.
Are there any SAD sufferers out there? How do you combat the disorder?