The holidays have passed and all the hoopla and running around is past. Its cold and the days are short. This is when many become susceptible to the “Winter Blues”. However, for many people these short dark days can bring on something more significant. Although we have past the winter solstice and are moving back toward the light, we spend much of the time without significant sunlight during the winter months.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, as many as 25% of people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD to varying degrees.
SAD is a depression brought on by a decreased exposure to light. Sad has a long list of symptoms which may occur in any combinations including, fatigue, weight gain, oversleep, decreased motivation to socialize, and comfort food cravings. If you simply find yourself not enjoying the things that you normally do…that too is a common sign.
While still being investigated, researchers are considering a gene mutation in the retina of the eye as a possible explanation for the condition. The mutated gene causes an imbalance in the pineal gland. This in turn leads to increase secretion of melatonin, the hormone responsible for sleep regulation.
What You Can Do
- Increase your exposure…Get more light
“Light therapy is the most effective way to treat SAD,” says Stephen Josephson, Ph.D., clinical associate professor at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.” Just buy a light box and sit in front of it for about 30 minutes each morning .” Even cheaper….sit in front of a window facing the sun [that’s what I have started doing and I can feel the difference!]
- Forget The Shades
The eyes play a crucial role in regulating the biochemistry and rhythms of the brain and body. “For some people, their retinas are insensitive and therefore need more light to maintain normal functionality .”, Josephson says. The more early morning sunlight that enters your eyes, the less melatonin your body produces, making you less lethargic for the rest of the day!
- Cut the Carbs
Seasonal Affective Disorder brings with it a major diet wrecking symptom: the urge for high carb foods! Be on guard…”It’s like a drug,” Josephson explains. ” There may be some short term anti-anxiety effects, but over time it has some negative effects, too.” Don’t let a sudden urge derail your long term health and fitness goals.
Josephson states, “Inactivity hurts anyone prone to mood problems, Activities that make you feel accomplished or productive are helpful.” “The effects of exercise on mood is well documented. You have to exercise every day to see an effect on depression,” he adds.
Use these helpful tips to stay energized and happy…and don’t forget the effects of regular chiropractic adjustments have in helping your brain and body communicate!