Updated: Dec 21, 2022
In the fifth century BC, Hippocrates wrote “Such diseases that increase in the winter ought to cease in the summer… The physician must treat disease with the conviction that each of them is powerful in the body according to the season which is most comfortable to it.”
Although Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD has been described in medical documents for many years, it has only been formally mentioned since the 1980’s. It is considered to be a form of depression, that occurs in people between Autumn and Spring, when sufferers then have a sense of euphoria as the weather improves and the days become longer. Some studies suggest it is very common, with one in 50 people having mood changes in the winter months.
What are the key symptoms of SAD?
· Feeling depressed, despondent, hopeless, despairing or apathetic
· Sleep problems
· Lethargy and fatigue, often incapacitating, making it very difficult or impossible to carry out normal routines
· Overeating, craving for carbohydrates and sweet foods leading to weight gain
· Difficulty with concentration and memory
· Irritability and/or anxiety
· Avoidance of social contact
· Loss of libido
· Extreme mood changes
· Agitation and restlessness
There are several theories as to the cause of SAD, all of which relate to the effect of light on the brain. A lack of sunlight leads to a higher level of a melatonin in the body, which slows the body down. Hibernating animals, like a grizzly bear, secrete high levels of melatonin in order to sleep through the winter months. Another theory suggests that SAD is caused by a disturbance of the dopamine and serotonin levels in the hypothalamus, which controls mood and appetite. Some researchers also believe that sufferers of SAD have lower eye sensitivity to light, this results in a fluctuation of hormone levels in the body. All these theories may be true.
Although these theories may serve to explain things, there is still the unanswered question as to why some individuals are more susceptible to depression than others. Homeopathy works well in this arena, as it considers the whole person, rather than a list of their symptoms, so it can help with depression of all types, including SAD. Homeopathic remedies can bring about dramatic changes in mood and behaviour, but there are other factors that can be helpful and supportive in improving mood and general wellbeing.
Tips to Help with Seasonal Affective Disorder
What can you do as well as going to see a Homeopath?!
In a nutshell – get as much natural light as possible!
· Get more natural sunlight.
· Keep your curtains and blinds open.
· Make sure you spend time in natural daylight.
· Take a brisk walk outside. A walk in the midday winter sunlight can significantly lift the spirits.
· Eat a healthy well-balanced diet of fresh foods, complex carbohydrates and fish containing essential fatty acids.
We are what we eat
Carbohydrate rich and fatty foods lower the mood, and lead to nutritional deficiencies of vitamins and trace elements, which also impede the immune system. Healthy fresh food will have a dramatic effect on someone’s health, both physical and emotional.