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November 4, 2013
Ever felt particularly down and out during winter season? You may be one of millions of Americans suffering from a condition called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). While the acronym for this illness is quite ironic, there’s a lot more to SAD than most people know.
How does one get SAD?
It is not yet certain what causes SAD, but strong evidence suggests that the condition is very much triggered by sunlight. Some studies suggest that decreased exposure to light, particularly those that come from the sun, can cause changes to the body’s internal biological clock. This in turn, affects a person’s mood, sleeping patterns, and hormones.
Another theory is that people who are diagnosed with this specific disorder have altered neurotransmitters, which can be corrected by getting more sunlight.
People with SAD usually experience the following symptoms:
Inability to concentrate
Lack of energy
“Heavy” sensation in the limbs
Want to sleep all day
Increase craving for carbohydrates and
Accompanying weight gain
The main concern about this particular type of depression is that most people just regard SAD as winter blues or seasonal funk, when there are actually scientific explanations as to why so many people experience this seasonal disorder.
Here’s some of the facts about SAD:
Women are prone to experiencing it more than men.
It usually starts to show up during early adulthood.
While SAD is a specified type of depression and not really an individualized disorder, around half a million Americans are diagnosed with it.
It usually happens during fall and winter months, but there are some people who experience summer depression as well.
This condition is much more common in cloudy locations or those who are farther south or north of the equator.
How to Get Through Winter Depression
1. Get more sunlight.
If you are prone to experiencing symptoms of SAD, then start using a light box as soon as fall starts to end, even the symptoms aren’t there yet. Maximize your time spent under the sun, even when it’s cloudy as any type of sunlight can still help you a great deal.
2. Have a balanced diet.
Nothing beats having a deliciously nutritious meal three times a day when it comes to beating depression. Make sure what you’re eating is loaded with all sorts of vitamins and minerals. Don’t give in to your body’s cravings of carbohydrates and sweets, just stick to the healthy foods as it will give you energy that’s enough to last you the whole day.
3. Exercise, exercise.
While winter does want to make you stay inside and sit on your sofa beside the fireplace, it will only make your SAD worse. Try exercising or dancing to a custom playlist for 30 minutes a day, three to four times a week.
Of course, don’t forget to consult with a medical professional about your condition for more information on how to deal with your condition effectively. Lastly, keep a sunny attitude! After all, it’s the season of giving, so focus on making others happy and you’ll soon find yourself smiling your way to the start of the new year.