Now we are in August, the light at the end of the tunnel is starting to get a bit brighter for those of us who find that the shorter days and colder weather of winter creates a feeling of fatigue, listlessness, and even depression. While it is often swept under the rug, or bundled up as ‘general winter woes’, these symptoms, along with changes in skin, mood, and general wellbeing could indicate the presence of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
SAD is thought to affect up to a quarter of the adult population, with the main symptom being depression. Researchers have found that the hormones and brain chemicals which control both mood and sleeping patterns are linked with SAD – the lower the levels, the higher the risk of developing this condition. Serotonin is a hormone which acts as a neurotransmitter, regulating sleep patterns, body temperature, appetite, libido, and emotions. It is available in supplement form, but you can just as easily boost production of this important hormone by eating a high-protein snack about 3 hours before bedtime.
A significant factor in SAD is the huge drop in vitamin D availability. It is now believed that you can actually store vitamin D (which is actually a hormone!) to help ward off SAD. Getting your daily dose of natural light is crucial to your emotional, mental and physical wellbeing. Our bodies are actually designed to make vitamin D through sun exposure, needing as little as 2 hours of time spent in sunlight per week. While this may appear difficult on days when the sun doesn’t break through the clouds, it is still providing the exposure you need to make this important hormone.