Are you affected by the change to colder weather? If you find yourself feeling depressed, not as energetic as you usually are or not waking as refreshed as you normally do even when you oversleep, then you could be experiencing the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. This disorder’s main culprit is a lack of exposure to sunlight, and nearly ten million people in the United States alone suffer from its negative effects. Thanks to Dr. Ganz Ferrance for the informative CTV video on winter blues.
[dropcap]C[/dropcap]ommon Symptoms of SAD
You may crave more carbohydrates when you are in the throes of SAD. This is due to the fact that a lack of sunlight results in decreased serotonin production in the body. Also, carbohydrates are responsible for the production of serotonin. As we all know, serotonin is a feel-good chemical.
SAD has also been linked specifically to a deficiency in omega-3 fatty acids. A recent study showed how the brain’s activity changes when lower levels of omega-3s are present. It’s been discovered in some studies that a lack of omega-3s resulted in impaired function in those brain receptors which control the regulation of appetite and pain. Omega-3 deficiency has also been linked to depression.
The latter is especially interesting where it comes to weight gain. When a SAD sufferer’s serotonin levels dip, one of the main ingredients which trigger serotonin production is carbohydrates. Unfortunately, carbohydrates are not metabolism boosters. And if depression is a symptom experienced by a SAD patient, chances are high that the motivation to exercise may not be present. What can follow is vicious cycle of negative factors that can ultimately result in the development of several completely-preventable but life-threatening medical conditions.
Being Careful About Snacking.
Just because a person may be suffering from SAD, that doesn’t mean that they have to cut their carbohydrate intake altogether. In fact, some SAD symptoms may actually be lessened when certain carbs are introduced.
The key to balancing the amount of carbohydrates is in choosing the right carbs to snack on when cravings arise. Foods like popcorn and shredded wheat can offer the feel-good serotonin that’s needed without the risk of sugar highs and lows.
Time of Day Also a Factor.
Experts also suggest that the best way to combat SAD symptoms, which tend to be most intense in the evening hours is to ensure that most of the day’s carbs are included in the dinnertime meal. Evening is also a time when the urge to snack on unhealthy carbs like baked goods can be strong. Ingredients of a SAD-friendly dinner can include ingredients like potatoes and lentils.
Do-It-Yourself Treatment Options.
There are actually many things you can do yourself to reduce SAD symptoms. And many of them can be completed for little or no cost. Getting exposure to natural sunlight is probably the quickest and easiest way to fight symptoms, as it is SAD’s main cause. Natural light is obviously most available if a large number of windows are present in a home.
If light doesn’t enter your home as much as you like, you may want to consider attending to those items which may be preventing light from getting to you. Trimming the branches of a light-blocking tree outside a window may be one solution. Another could be choosing to take work breaks outside so that you maximize sunlight exposure. Inside, light therapy may be an option. There are many products on the market which effectively simulate sunlight.
No, this doesn’t mean social networking. Physical interactions with those you know are well-known as an effective treatment for depression. And socializing can mean just about anything, from a family dinner to a team hobby, or even a support group for SAD sufferers.
It can be difficult to know when it’s time to get help, and you may feel as though no one understands your feelings. But the truth is that SAD is a very common affliction. And so even if you don’t feel like going out to be with people, there are online support groups that can help you overcome your symptoms one at a time.
Viva La March!
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Guest author Ruth Suelemente writes on a variety of topics, but is particularly passionate about health and wellness. She is a frequent contributor at The Diet Mindset, a site that reviews the best diet plans available in the marketplace. You can also find Ruth on Google.
Brought to you by Norman Rosenthal MD.
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