Seasonal Affective Disorder treatment

The Good Life Letter

Friday 21st October 2011

  • Are you dreading the darker days?
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder treatment for natural happiness 
  • How natural light can boost your happiness

Are you one of the 1/2 million folk in the UK who dread this time of year?

I'm not talking about the fact that every shop has already got its Christmas range in or even the fact that our lives are blighted by talentless talent shows on TV.

No, what I'm talking about is a medical condition that robs so many people of their 'get up and go' when the clocks go back.

For a certain section of the population the thought that our days will be shorter and the power of the sun weakened or extinguished altogether heralds a seasonal malaise.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of winter depression that affects about 500,000 people every year, from September to April.

The months of December, January and February tend to be the worst since this is when the sun is least likely to have his hat on. It's also been reported that serotonin - the chemical responsible for regulating happiness in the brain is lacking at this time of the year.

It can be unbearable for sufferers. In some cases, it can have a devastating effect. You literally cannot function.
There is a simple solution though

So is this all just a state of mind? Just a case of winter blues?

Surprisingly, NO...

S.A.D. is triggered by a chemical imbalance caused by lack of sunlight.

This imbalance takes places in the hypothalamus - a section of the brain just behind the eyes. This section helps to control the pituitary gland, which in turn controls the thyroid, adrenal glands and sexual organs.

And, as if that wasn't enough, the hypothalamus also helps control appetite and weight, sleep, body temperature and emotions.

So when the hypothalamus is mucked about with, your body can feel extremely off-centre, and can make the act of "keeping up appearances" very hard indeed...

People who suffer from S.A.D. may feel like shutting the world away. And if they do have to deal with people, they can be irritable and snappy.

They become tense and stressed, find it hard to stay awake and tend to crave carbohydrates and sweets... all the stodgy foods our bodies think they need in the colder months but in fact, these foods make us feel even more sluggish!

In short, they suffer from a full-blown depression which can all-too-easily be written off as a general low feeling that most of us feel when January comes, when work and school starts up again, and when things slowly get back to normal.

If you are suffering from S.A.D though, it's important to recognise it and seek treatment and help. There's no need to suffer in silence!

Scientific proof for winter blues

This phenomena has been known about for quite a while too, in fact the father of modern medicine Hippocrates noted that a 'melancholia' occurred when the seasonal light patterns changed.

The big question is how can you deal with it?

In the last twenty years many scientists have been looking at how artificial light can be used to help maintain a healthy balance in SAD sufferer's lives.

Chief among these are a team of researchers from America led by Dr Norman Rosenthal have been conducting their research since the mid 1980's and have concluded that adaptations to environmental light patterns can drastically reduce the incidence of these debilitating symptoms.

But it needs to be a specific type of light as not just any old light bulb will do it.

Overcoming S.A.D isn't as simple as just turning the light on though - the light we get from a standard bulb or fluorescent tube is not pure enough to replace the power of natural sunlight.

We need to replace the spectrum and intensity of the suns rays, and that requires a very special light source to make the difference - find one here

Choosing a therapeutic light source needs some careful research, as light boxes are not all the same. For instance, the product HAS to have been tested as a medical device and MUST carry the correct European certification mark - CE0473 as it happens.

Without these marks of quality there is no way of knowing that the product you use will have any benefit on your condition, and might even be damaging you health due to poor screening of harmful ultra violet light.

How to turn S.A.D into HAPPY

S.A.D can be a truly debilitating condition, leaving sufferers in a vicious cycle of lethargy, apathy, frustration and misery.

They shut themselves off from the world avoiding interaction and isolate themselves in their sadness. What was once deemed 'winter blues' spirals out of control into a full-blown depression leaving the individual helpless and overwhelmed.

But there are ways to fight it and regain control...

Vitamin D is also a major weapon against depression. And guess what - a fair proportion of our Vitamin D production comes from sunshine. So during the winter months, your Vitamin D levels are likely to be struggling, so up your intake by eating oily fish and eggs.

In the rare moments between the rain clouds, try and nip out for a brisk walk. Picture a destination such as a sandy beach or exotic rainforest and walk there and back at a pace that makes you a little breathless and gets your heart pumping.

If you think you may be a S.A.D sufferer you'll need to speak to your doctor to make sure, after all depressive conditions can occur for a whole number of reasons and you need to take it seriously. They can guide you with the help you need to get happy again and back to your old self.

Of course, some of us are S.A.D for entirely different reasons...let's just say the events in New Zealand last week left me a broken man. If you would like to relive the game but through the tear stained eyes of a Welshman sit with me here

Yours, as always







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