SAD, (Seasonal Affective Disorder) sometimes called Winter Blues, affects almost one in three people in the UK during the winter months when daylight hours are much shorter. The decrease in sunlight can disrupt the natural internal body clock and lead to feelings of low mood and depression.
Research commissioned in 2014 by The Weather Channel and YouGov found that women are 40 percent more likely to experience symptoms of the condition than men, although many men and teenagers suffer symptoms too.
Symptoms can include:
- persistently feeling low, teary and hopeless.
- low energy, not wanting to go out and a general lack of motivation.
- finding it hard to concentrate
- sleep problems – often feeling very sleepy, even during the day.
- craving carbs and overeating
- lower immune system and vulnerability to infections
Once spring arrives, and there are more daylight hours, symptoms often disappear of their own accord.
However, one in ten SAD patients have the opposite problem and have feelings of low mood and depression during the summer months. Longer daylight hours interfere with their body’s natural circadian rhythms and they can never ‘switch off’. This can also lead to insomnia and reduced appetite. Their symptoms often improve when autumn arrives.
Treatment alternatives include:
- Light Therapy using lightboxes – these are not available on the NHS, so you will need to buy your own and can have mixed results and are not always suitable particularly for children.
- Getting out in the natural sunshine as much as possible. This will help stimulate the pineal gland which helps reset the body’s own internal clock and improve both mood and sleep issues. Morning sunshine on your forehead is most useful – if possible for 20 minutes a day.
- Taking good quality fish oils can make an enormous difference too. Recently I recommended taking fish oils to a teenager with low mood and anxiety (alongside homeopathic remedies) and the difference in 4 weeks was astounding.
- Talking therapies.
- Homeopathic remedies – there is a SAD mix that can be amazingly helpful but there are lots of other remedies for low mood too.
- Anti-depressants prescribed by your GP.
Please get in touch if you would like any information about using homeopathy for SAD.