By Jo Cordell-Cooper*
THE up side of turning back the clock in autumn is that apparent extra hour of sleep in the morning.
But it also means shorter daylight hours that for many can trigger seasonal affected disorder, or ‘SAD’, a type of depression that lasts until spring.
Experts say the real trigger is the reduced number of daylight hours during the winter months, although other factors, such as cold temperatures and weak daylight, can make symptoms worse.
This is particularly apparent in the southern and northern pole areas, but there are a few differences between SAD and major depression.
People with SAD often sleep and eat more, possibly gaining weight as a result, unlike people with major depression who tend to have difficulty sleeping and don’t have much appetite.
It is also less common for people with SAD to think about suicide.
Perhaps this is because of the apparent “light at the end of the tunnel.”
Non-seasonal depression is a little less predictable.
So assuming you do get SAD, what can you do about it? Here are my top 5 tips:
- Immunity may be weakened, so rest up and eat well – eat food that is high in vitamins and minerals, such as plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Consider “blue light therapy” – ever noticed how light creates mood? Well there’s a whole body of research that finds blue light therapy is equivalent to being drenched in sunlight, there’s plenty to read about this on the Internet.
- Walk in nature – bush walking in winter is wonderfully refreshing and this will leave you feeling calm and re-energised. Visit a waterfall or play in the snow. There is much to benefit from exercising outdoors.
- Try cod liver oil – researchers say vitamin D deficiency could be a driver of SAD. And what’s the best form of vitamin D? I’d put my money on cod liver oil.
- Talk to your doctor – recognise that this falls within regular depressive illness. Medication and other forms of support may be appropriate.
Learning to embrace winter is key to reducing SAD, so make a plan and get proactive before the SAD’s hit you.
*Jo Cordell-Cooper is the owner and operator of twice award winning Active Solutions and Health Network, specialising in women’s fitness, all ages and stages. Contact Jo on phone 0409 862 206, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website at jocc.com.au.