You may have been diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or you may think you have it. As the summer draws in and the darker nights prevail, some of us feel like we want to hibernate for the winter and feel more depressed than in the summer months.
But what is Sad?
Seasonal Affective Disorder, is a type of depression that occurs at the same season, during the winter each year. You may feel fine in the summer and spring but start to feel more depressed going into the winter months. If you think you have SAD it is important that you visit your doctor to ensure that it is not something else which have similar symptoms to SAD. Conditions such as Illnesses with similar symptoms such as under-active thyroid function, hypoglycemia, viral infections, and chronic fatigue syndrome, should be ruled out before a SAD diagnosis is confirmed.
SAD is more common in women, but can affect either sex. You can also be more affected if you live far from the equator where winter daylight hours are shorter. It is also believed that if you have a close relative that suffers from Sad you are more likely to suffer from it yourself.
What causes Sad?
The medical profession are not sure what causes SAD, but they think it is caused from a lack of sunlight.
What are the symptoms of SAD?
• An increased craving for carbohydrates, such as bread of pasta
• Increase in weight
• Lack of interest in usual activities
• Feeling moody, sad or irritable
• Tiredness and sleeping more
• Lack of concentration
What are the best treatments for SAD?
Treatment for SAD includes Light therapy, anti-depressants, and psychotherapy. Some people choose either one of these treatments or a combination.
“I work in an Office with bright lights, am I not getting enough light from that?”
Unfortunately interior lights do not allow as much light into the eye as light from outside.
An office florescent light might give you 500 lux but light from outside might give you over 500-1,000 times that amount.
How much sunlight do we need?
This depends on a number of factors; your skin type can determine how much sun you need. The NHS website advises that fair skinned people have about 15 minutes of sunshine a day, during the summer months of April to October. The best times to get this sun would be between the hours of 11-3, with the more skin exposed the more likely you will absorb enough vitamin D, which should be enough to meet vitamin D levels. Darker skinned people would need more than this.
During the winter months in the UK (November-March), we cannot get enough sunshine to make enough vitamin D from sunshine, so we should look or other sources, although we will have stored some vitamin D during the summer months.
Unfortunately, we cannot get a lot of vitamin D through foods, especially if we do not eat foods containing vitamin D. In this instance a good quality vitamin D supplement is worth considering, throughout the winter months, or if you spend a lot of time indoor without getting much sunshine.
Good Food Sources of vitamin D:
• Salmon, Tuna and Mackerel
• Orange juice fortified with vitamin D
• Milk and Yogurt
• Fortified Margarine
• Fortified cereals