Have you caught yourself feeling sort of nostalgic during rainy days? Winter puts you down? Fatigue becomes harder and harder to fight as it gets colder and darker? You kind of want to stay home, not interact with friends nor family and rather just sleep?
You are not the only one. Studies suggest a limited exposure to light, among other factors that come together during the winter, might be the cause for your bad mood and lack of energy. The condition otherwise known as SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder.
What is the cause of SAD?
Lack of light
Even though scientists admit there are still many unknowns about SAD, the lack of light seems to be the common denominator.
The Seasonal Affective Disorder strikes during bad weather days, when the sunshine has a hard time coming through; during winter, when the days are shorter; and even during busier times at work, when you spend more time in the office and less time outside.
Getting more light sounds like the logical solution, doesn’t it? And it works! There is one trick to it, however. Make sure you get more light in the mornings. Evidence suggests waking up while it is dark outside could be an onset of the condition. Therapists report setting the clock back to winter time is a relief, even though the sun sets one hour earlier. Enjoying a brighter beginning of the day is what counts.
Melatonin is a hormone, produced by the pineal gland, when it gets dark. The substance conditions your body for sleep. It could be that the shorter days make your brain overproduce melatonin and this is the reason you feel under the weather.
The result is you already feel like you do not get enough sleep, and at the same time melatonin seems to put you down. In that case you can consider a non-melatonin sleep enhancer that helps you achieve sustainable and restful sleep. Only quality sleep will give you energy for the challenges of the following day.
Even though the lack of light seems to be the main culprit for the condition, it appears there are people, who, for geographical reasons, live with limited light, but are not affected by SAD disproportionally. Reportedly, the citizens of Alaska suffer from SAD at the same rate as citizens of states thousands of kilometers to the south with a lot longer days.
Absence of negative ions
There is a curious treatment of SAD, involving negative ions, discovered accidentally while doing an experiment on another topic.
During spring time, when our good mood usually awakens, the air is full of negatively charged ions. Those are not present in our winter days.
This is probably the reason why patients, put under a high-density stream of negative ions reported relief from symptoms, associated with SAD.
The severity of the condition of SAD always varies. It may present itself as mild irritability, lethargy, apathy… or set off a full blown depression.
SAD affects people differently. A part of the predisposition is genetics. And there is not much you can do about that. However, people who plan activities to improve their mood become immuned to the more severe SAD symptoms.
How do you fight the SAD?
The main symptoms of SAD are two. One is lack of energy and the other is bad mood. There are several steps you can take to affect both and prepare yourself for the SAD impact.
Our behavior is reward- and pleasure-driven. Rewards increase the levels of dopamine in our brain. High dopamine is present when anticipating a pleasant event – for example when waiting for a good meal. So much so that many drugs owe their addictive nature to the dopamine-increase effect. The drug is registered as a reward.
The imbalance of serotonin, another potent neurotransmitter, produced in the brain, is linked to the causes of depression. Serotonin is reportedly connected to feelings of joy, happiness and pleasure. Serotonin level spikes are observed when falling in love.
What can you do to naturally regulate the dopamine and serotonin levels in your brain? Make sure you are not deficient in precursors so your body can use them to produce a sufficient amount of the substances when it is supposed to. Apran is happy to be able to offer you D, L- Phenylalanin, L-Tryptophan and L-Theanine which deliver precursors of the neurotransmitters.
Multiple studies suggest that excursive naturally raises the levels of neurotransmitters and endorphins. To maximize the effects of your exercise against SAD:
- Make sure you are not deficient in precursors
- Do your exercise outside to catch fresh air and more light
- Plan your exercise in the morning for optimal effect.
We hope you have enjoyed this article about dealing with seasonal affective disorder. Click on the link to review our full selection of products for mood and emotional health.