What is SAD, well its short for Seasonal Affective Disorder. The condition is marked by the onset of depression during the late fall and early winter months when less natural sunlight is available. It's thought to occur when daily body rhythms become out-of-sync because of the reduced sunlight.
So what is Depression?
It's natural to feel down sometimes, but if that low mood lingers day after day, it could signal depression. Major depression is an episode of sadness or apathy along with other symptoms that last at least two consecutive weeks and is severe enough to interrupt daily activities. Depression is not a sign of weakness or a negative personality. It is a major public health problem and a treatable medical condition.
But SAD seems to affect a range of people that just seem to crave the return to sunny, warm weather and the shorter winter days with it getting darker earlier each day seems to increase their feelings of low self-esteem and self-depreciation. It can lead to situations that a person would normally shrug off, but instead, they keep re-hashing those feelings until they begin to consume themselves. SAD affects up to 3% of the U.S. population or about 9 million people, some experts say, and countless others have milder forms of the winter doldrums.
Symptoms of SAD can include: Sleeping too much, Experiencing fatigue in the daytime, along with Gaining weight and having decreased interest in social activities and sex
SAD is more common for residents in northern latitudes. It's less likely in Florida, for instance than in New Hampshire. Women are more likely than men to suffer from this ailment.
How to Alleviate SAD or Lessen Its Effect On You: Most physicians agree that getting more direct sunlight during the winter days goes a long way to helping a person relieve that mood of depression that increases this time of year. It’s no surprise that treatment involves getting more light into your life. If you feel low in winter, get outside as often as you can, especially on bright days. Sitting by a window can also help.
You might be tempted to escape the dark winter days with a holiday somewhere sunny. This can be effective for some But another form of treatment is,:
Light Therapy: Light therapy is often used to treat SAD. This involves sitting in front of or beneath a light box that produces a very bright light. Your GP can give you more information.
But getting back to what you can easily do was mentioned above is get more direct sunlight. One thing about the winter months is that the sun, on a clear day provides ample light rays, and filled with vitamin D to help you feel more invigorated. So one of the things you can do outside in the winter is to go for a long walk. Now, we don’t mean to do this when theirs a blizzard blowing outside. But let’s face it. A winter storm does not happen every day, much less, every week. After all, the winter season, (meteorological winter season) is only 3 months long. From December 1st until February 28th. And during that time, again, depending on where you live you may actually see only 3-4 major snow events. So that really does give you the opportunity to get outside this time of year and get that walking in. And while you’re walking, set yourself a goal to increase either the time you’re walking or the distance, or both each week. This way you’re going to hold yourself accountable for your actions. You may even be surprised that doing this will get you caught up in the walking accountability and you won’t have time to think about those things that were making you feel depressed in the first place!
In order to track your steps and distance accurately, you need to either get yourself a reliable Pedometer, like the Omron HJ-321 Triaxis Pedometer which will count both your walking steps and the brisk steps you can take if you want to up your game. And the Omron HJ will also track your distance and the calories your burning because of that walk your taking in that glorious sunshine. That brisk walk you’re taking can actually help increase the serotonin levels in your brain, which helps to regulate your “Mood-Levels” so again, getting a little physical by walking can help to get you “Out of the Dumps” and into a better state of mind.
So what are you waiting for, lace up those walking shoes, get outside and enjoy that winter sunshine!