Are You Suffering from the Winter Blues?

Some people during late autumn and winter can experience a sudden shift in mood and emotions. For some people the change to the colder seasons can result in a form of depression call Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). People can feel depressed and lack motivation to participate in normal daily activities.

Medical science doesn’t fully understand the exact cause of SAD. There is no diagnostic testing. Doctors believe that there may be several factors that trigger SAD:

  • Research suggests that the lack of sunlight in the colder months alters the brains chemistry’s response to the change in season
  • The circadian rhythm that regulates sleep and waking patterns is also altered in the colder months due to less sunlight and to the change in brain chemistry
  • Some people may be genetically predisposed and have a susceptibility to SAD.

What are the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder?

With the days getting shorter and colder many of us begin to feel more tired, experience a difficulty getting out of bed, or feel less motivated than normal.

Feeling like this can be quite normal for some and is a result of neuro-chemical changes due to decreased sunlight exposure.

For some people however, their experience of the ‘winter blues’ is so severe and debilitating that it impacts their ability to communicate with others, including their loved ones.

If your symptoms become this severe you should seek professional advice from a health care provider.

People can experience SAD in different ways:

  • Feeling flat
  • Unmotivated
  • Depressed
  • Anxious
  • Oversleeping
  • Lack of energy
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Weight gain and craving
  • carbohydrate foods
  • Loss of libido
  • Withdrawing from people
  • Feeling isolated
  • Increased need to sleep

What can I do to feel better?

Talking to a mental health profession will determine if you have SAD. It’s then important to do a little research in how you want to deal with your symptoms. Research suggests that being exposed to daily sunlight to boost serotonin levels is a good place to start, like spending time outdoors:

  • Going for walks
  • Exercising
  • Reading a favourite book in the park
  • Well balanced diet and an adequate intake of essential nutrients
  • Stress management
  • Studying outdoors
  • Spending time gardening
  • Having lunch outdoors
  • Encourage a healthy sleep pattern
  • Avoid stimulants and excessive alcohol
  • Taking a mid-winter holiday to a sunny destination
  • Let more sunlight come through your windows at home and at your work place

How can MiCBT and Naturopathy help me if I have SAD Syndrome?

If you’re finding that general self-help is not enough to alleviate symptoms, then it may be helpful to see a therapist. The aim of Mindfulness-integrated behavior therapy (MiCBT)in relationship to SAD, is for you to experience new ways to deal with underlying symptoms and issues, so that you can regain a sense of wellbeing, allowing you to confidently and happily return to daily life activities.

Naturopathy can help address your symptoms on many different levels and our qualified Naturopaths can recommend a therapeutic dose of essential nutrients tailored to suit your individual needs.

Don’t brush off that low feeling as simply a case of the “winter blues” or a seasonal funk that you have to tough out on your own. You may have SAD.

Addressing the problem can help you keep your mood and motivation positive and steady throughout the year.

Who should I see?

Daniel is our MiCBT facilitator and one of our qualified Naturopaths here at Vital Chi. Daniel’s goal is to find ways to make health fit into your life and works with you collaboratively to set goals and establish treatment plans for SAD according your body’s needs. He takes a very individual approach to your health problems, helping you to regain balance, establish healthy eating habits and make positive lifestyle choices to promote wellness in all dimensions of your life.

Daniel will help you to use MiCBT techniques and Naturopathic treatments to address the causative factors of SAD. You will be armed with ‘tools’ so that you may find new ways to manage SAD symptoms. Daniel will be by your side assisting you to prevent this cyclic low, create new meaning, personal growth and promote healing in your life.

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