A little known fact about me...I get SAD
Yes, it's true. Every year around this time and extending to mid March I get SAD, seasonal affective disorder. For most of my life I was clueless that my winter blues were something more then just the blahs. Once aware that SAD was a real issue that many people faced, I was in utter denial that it affected me. After all I was running a program of, "That happens to other people not me. I am strong not weak.I don't have a disorder." I believed that having Seasonal Affective Disorder was a weakness in self and character. As soon as I accepted that SAD was a part of my life and had no bearing on who I was, I took conscious control of it. Now I experience winter in a whole new way.
According to statistics from the Canadian Mental Health Association, between two and three percent of Ontarians may have SAD. Another 15% have a less severe experience described as the "winter blues." Another CMHA study suggests that potentially 750,000 Canadians may be affected.
What is SAD?
Seasonal affective disorder ("affective" is a psychiatric term for mood), describes people who get moody, sad, bluesy and often depressed during the autumn and winter seasons. During the spring and summer, they feel upbeat and energetic. SAD can be triggered by reduced exposure to sunlight during the shorter days which begin in the fall and last until spring time.
What are the symptoms of SAD?
Common symptoms include oversleeping, fatigue, increased appetite with carbohydrate and sweet cravings, overeating, and weight gain, decreased energy, avoidance of social situations, feeling anxious or despair sometimes resulting in depression. People who experience more severe episodes, may have suicidal thoughts.
What can I do if I have SAD?
My first suggestion is to admit that you have it. It is not a sign of weakness and it can be managed effectively. Seek help from a health care professional. Consult with your doctor, naturopath, nutritionist, herbologist, hormone doctor, and a therapist or counselor. There are physical and emotional issues at hand which need attention. Spend time outdoors in the sunshine. Wear sunscreen protection and get outdoors.
Try light therapy. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, research has shown that many patients with SAD improve with exposure to bright, artificial light, called light therapy, or phototherapy. As little as 30 minutes per day of sitting under a special fluorescent light box results in significant improvement in 60% to 70% of SAD patients. Google light therapy for more information.
Exercise. Moving your body is beneficial to anyone at anytime. Get moving and boost your endorphins, the feel good hormones. Eat nutritiously. I am particularly conscious of my nutrition in the winter making sure I consume healthy foods that help my body run optimally. Salmon, vegetables, fruit, nuts and hearty soups are my favorite. I also use Isagenix products which provide high quality nutrition.
Take Supplements. Please consult with your health care practitioner to help you choose the best ones for you. I consume vitamin D and C, extra omega 3's and essential fatty acids, adrenal support, full spectrum vitamin B's and my beloved Ionix Supreme to get all of my essential trace minerals and herbs.
Engage with people. I know it can be challenging to get out and socialize when all you feel like doing is wrapping a blanket around you and plopping on the sofa. Be strong consciously and give yourself a push to mingle and be with people. You will feel better. I promise. If you can swing it go on a warm sun filled holiday.
Now that I have accepted that I get SAD and have implemented measures to help me get through it, winters have turned into a pleasant time of the year. And my friends and family would agree that I have become a more pleasant person to be around when the cold dark days set in.