BY: Sunny Jaspal
Acupuncture / Conditions
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SAD: Fighting the Winter Blues
Natural ways to cope with the winter blues
As Autumn closes in and grey skies prevail, it seems appropriate to focus on light and how this affects our mood and health. We’ve all heard of the term ‘the winter blues’ but how many of us understand what this means?
There are many factors contributing to what is termed ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’ by the medical community, a condition whereby an individual experiences depression in the colder winter months of the year.
Firstly, lack of bright light means that the production of melatonin and serotonin are limited, these are produced when light hits the retinas in our eyes, which then sends a signal to the brain. Serotonin is our feel good chemical and melatonin regulates our sleep rhythms. Therefore a lack of these chemicals will lead to low mood and problems with wakefulness.
Vitamin D deficiency can also lead to problems during the colder months, with vitamin D being absent through the sun’s ray between the months of October to March, when they are not of the necessary wavelength to produce Vitamin D upon contact with our skin. An overwhelming 25% of the population are thought to be Vitamin D deficient, and recent studies are showing just how many systems in our body this can affect.
All of this poor lighting can leave you feeling depressed, stressed, anxious, lacking in energy and generally not your usual self. So what can you do to beat the blues? Below is list of suggestions that may help you feel brighter over this cold season…
- Light therapy – Using a light box lamp is a good way to ensure you’re receiving enough light for melatonin and serotonin production. They come in many shapes and sizes, and you’ll need to ensure you find one from a reputable seller. Lumie light boxes are certified by the Medical Devices Directive and can be found at www.lumie.com. Watch out for the cheaper imitations which aren’t bright enough to produce the desired effect.
- Vitamin D supplementation – During the months of October to March when we don’t receive Vitamin D from the sun it’s a good idea to supplement, especially if you are deficient. Visit your GP to have your Vitamin D levels checked and think about supplementation
- Acupuncture can be helpful for managing conditions such as depression and stress. Many of clients come for treatment due to these very problems and find acupuncture helps them to cope and feel better. Regular treatment is recommended to get you back on track.