Now the clocks have gone back, tens of thousands of people in the UK will start the downhill trek toward Seasonal Affective Disorder, or S.A.D. – as apt an acronym as I have ever heard.
I hate to use the word “suffer” – it makes me feel like a victim – but I do experience S.A.D. Over the years, it has gotten worse so, last year, I decided to try to do something about it.
Being in the upper region of the northern hemisphere, we, as a nation, are particularly affected by S.A.D. Our winter daytime hours are very short and, often, people are travelling to and from work in the dark and get very little, or even no, natural daylight. This messes with our circadian rhythms, which regulate our body. The lack of sunlight also means that we become very low in vitamin D which is vital for calcium absorbtion but it is also linked to depression.
If any of the following symptoms sound familar to you, there is a good chance you experience S.A.D.:
- Lethargy, lacking in energy
- Sleep problems
- Loss of libido
- Social problems, not wanting to see people
- Depression for no apparent reason
- A craving for carbs
Being on a low carb diet, I always crave the carbs! Beyond that though, I could have ticked all of the above. And now on to Vitamin D.
If any of the following symptoms sound familiar to you, there is a good chance you are low on VitD:
- Becoming ill or infected regularly
- Unexplained tiredness
- Bone and/or back pain
- Slow wound healing
- Bone density loss
- Hair loss
- Muscle pain
I would typically have three of those symptoms (tiredness, depression, muscle pain) and, as someone who has had many years’ experience of depression, it was not helpful!
After a lot of investigating and reading various cures for S.A.D., I purchased a light lamp. I sat judiciously with it glaring in my face but did not gain any benefit from it. Of course, that is just my experience so it might be worth giving it a go (Amazon’s return policy make this very easy!). Eventually I tried daylight bulbs and actually did find these really good. I have one right by my head and the affect is to give any room they are in a much more natural look. It is quite amazing how “false” the light eminating from regular bulbs is, by comparison. They aren’t that expensive – about £15 for 4 – but they have lasted a year so far and I would suggest you place them in the rooms you spend most of the day in.
Next up, vitamin D. I have gradually increased my intake of vitamin D over the year. Having gone plant-based earlier this year, getting vitamin D from food is even harder, so supplementation is even more important. I will keep my intake high, increasing it when necessary.
It is only early November as I write and the clocks only went back last week, but it is getting dark around 4 and, as a late riser, means I spend more time awake in the dark than in the light. This time last year, I was pretty down already. So far this year, so good. My mood is extremely positive and, although the loss of daylight sucks – and can be quite inconvenient – I am not dreading it like usual.
To summarise: if you think you suffer from S.A.D. and/or Vitamin D deficiency, give the above a try. If you don’t feel an immediate effect, stick with it and/or increase doseage until you do!