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Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Seasonal Affective Disorder : SAD


our two youngest grand-children enjoying some winter sun on the beach


At this time of year, in the Northern Hemisphere, you often hear family members, friends, fellow bloggers talk about SAD ... but What is SAD?

It stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder, and many of us in the UK, Ireland, and many other countries suffer with it. 

Historically we only ever worked outdoors; two hundred years ago 75% of the population worked outdoors now less than 10% of the population work in natural outdoor light. Whilst this is fine in the Summer months when there are longer daylight hours, in the Winter months, people tend to go to work in the dark and go home in the dark and don’t get to enough natural daylight.

This modern way of living has dramatically altered nature’s cues. A modern day no longer starts at the break of dawn and ends at sunset. Workdays are getting longer and many people face shift work schedules. Additionally, the advent of electric lighting allows social gatherings and personal activities to extend well into the night. These factors have diminished the body’s natural ability to regulate the body clock and this work/life change has resulted in a dramatic increase in light deficiency symptoms.

In the UK and Ireland we are more susceptible to SAD as we are situated in the higher latitudes of the northern hemisphere, this also affects many other countries. As a result, we experience large changes in light levels between the summer and winter. We also experience periods of dark, gloomy weather which can reduce the amount of light we receive and therefore have a profound effect on our body clocks.

A combination of a change in seasonal light, our hectic lifestyles and the periods of darker days and poorer weather, can result in dramatic effects on our circadian rhythms. As a direct consequence of these environmental and lifestyle factors more people than ever before are suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder. 

Does daylight impact your health?

Like many mammals in the natural world, the human body responds to light. As a result our bodies are tuned in to the daylight hours in order to maintain our circadian rhythms. These rhythms regulate many important bodily functions and if you do not receive the correct daylight signals at the correct time this can have significant affects on your wellbeing. Circadian Rhythms help to regulate and control; food digestion, appetite for food, energy levels, sleep quality and length, and mood. Your Circadian Rhythm are effectively your body’s internal clock and if these rhythms are disrupted it can result in you suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder and may require light therapy

In the distant past human’s lived in the outdoors and were exposed to sufficient levels of sunlight the whole year round even in the northern and southern hemispheres. However, nowadays our lives are mainly carried out indoors due to work pressures, busy lifestyles and change in social behaviours. With the advent of television and now the growth in computer, phone and tablet based entertainment we spend more time than ever indoors and miss out on the light cues our body needs.

Without sufficient levels of morning light our bodies circadian rhythms are not triggered and our body fails to produce the hormones required to feel wide awake. During the day if we do not receive enough sunlight we feel sluggish, lethargic and low in energy and at night we stay awake long after darkness which can result in lack of sleep, disrupted sleep patterns and mood swings. In summary if we do not receive sunlight at the correct times and in sufficient quantities we can upset our body clock to such a degree that the symptoms of SAD ensue.

As a result you need to combat these problems by changing your lifestyle as much as possible, provide your body with daylight at the right times or alternatively use artificial sunlight at the correct times using a medically certified SAD Lamp/Sun Lamp.

There are a diverse range of symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder; many are associated with a feeling of general depression – which is why it is sometimes known as the ‘Winter blues’. Below is a list of possible symptoms. 

Seasonal Affective Disorder – How do I know if I’ve got it?

An example of SAD Symptoms include:
Lethargy, lacking in energy, unable to carry out a normal routine
Sleep problems, finding it hard to stay awake during the day, but having disturbed nights
Loss of libido, not interested in physical contact
Anxiety, inability to cope
Social problems, irritability, not wanting to see people
Depression, feelings of gloom and despondency for no apparent reason

Craving for carbohydrates and sweet foods, leading to weight gain 

It is always important to consult your doctor if you believe you have SAD as it may be another condition.

Words above and more to read here
The NHS also has an article about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), read it here


wintery scene, but the sunshine is welcome

Dear reader, you will find a variety of articles, studies etc. plus recent news/views and recipe ideas within this blog, we hope something for everyone to read and enjoy. Please note, not all may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.

All the best Jan

38 comments:

Christine said...

It sounds quite serious.

Tom said...

...the short daylight messes me up!

Susan Kane said...

We lived in Ireland 35 years ago and the SAD is an issue. We had moved from Victorville, CA, in the Mojave desert and then moved to Ireland. Now we live in So. California and have to pay attn to the changes.

You stated it very well. Your suggestions were excellent.

Valerie-Jael said...

We all need light and sunshine, especially in Winter. I am usually out and about walking for at least 3 hours every day, and it does me good. Valerie

R's Rue said...

Have a great day.

DeniseinVA said...

I have had family and friends who have lived in northern climes, and they have definitely been affected by this disorder. Let me know if I am wrong but I do believe there are special lamps and lightbulbs used in the winter time? That just popped into my head so I am not really sure if I was told that if I read it somewhere or if I am dreaming :)

Angie said...

Jan - this is a wonderful article. Since we live in northern Montana, we experience dramatically shorter days. Also, our valley is often socked in, adding to the 'grayness'. We try to get outside as much as possible - it really helps!

Jenny Woolf said...

Always glad I don't suffer from this.

Lowcarb team member said...

DeniseinVA said...
I have had family and friends who have lived in northern climes, and they have definitely been affected by this disorder. Let me know if I am wrong but I do believe there are special lamps and lightbulbs used in the winter time? That just popped into my head so I am not really sure if I was told that if I read it somewhere or if I am dreaming :)

Hello Denise, many thanks for your comment.
Yes, you are correct, there are SAD lights available and there is more to read about them here
www.sad.org.uk/buying-a-sad-light/

All the best Jan

N.B. As the original article says. It is always important to consult your doctor if you believe you have SAD as it may be another condition.

happyone said...

I know people who are effected. Though I'm not crazy about days without the sun it doesn't bother me much. I just turn on lots of lights. I think what helps me too is that I get outside for my walk just about every day.

Kay said...

When we lived in Illinois, I remember going to work in the dark and returning home in the dark. I guess I got used to it and didn't get tooooo bothered by it. However, I did feel spring fever once April came around.

Rose said...

Oh, cloudy days, when it is one piled on top of another really, really get to me. I have not been officially told I have it, but I know when winter is cloudy day after cloudy day really gets to me. I can deal with winter if it has sunshine...but not day after day of clouds.

William Kendall said...

I've never had issues with it.

Sheryl said...

Hi Jan very interesting post i have a friend that suffers from this xx

My name is Erika. said...

I live in New Hampshire and it seems to be dark all the time since we've had clouds and rain so much lately. I usually get SAD in the winter but it is here in full swing already. Ugh. Thanks for the article. It is always good to read about it and b reminded that I am not losing my mind. Hugs-Erika

sandy said...

what a sweet nice photo!! I think I use to get SAD much more than I do now. I moved to the mountains so I was prepared to experience all the seasons unlike when I lived down below in Southern California ..Well it's still SO Cal up here but we don't have as many sunny days as down there. I kind of like it but after awhile I need to at least go out in the jeep and drive around or go down the mountain for better weather.

The Happy Whisk said...

I love winter and that it's darker earlier but I also did the light longer too. I have never experienced SAD. I do though, have two close friends who deal with SAD. It hits them to the point they can't get stuff done at tines. One friend for the sunshine lamp.

Jeanie said...

I wouldn't say I'm full blown SAD but I do have sort of a shut down mechanism that comes when it gets dark. My days are so much less productive in the winter. That's why I prefer Daylight saving time. At least you get that extra hour at night; I don't need it in the morning.

Margaret-whiteangel said...

Interesting read. Have heard about that syndrome and can't imagine not seeing enough light or sun in the winter time.

Linda said...

Yes, I long for sunshine! We pay a price for our indoor lives.

Iris Flavia said...

I have a sun lamp and next week I´ll start with Cefasafra, based on safran, to brighten up my mood, let´s see if it works.

Jo said...

I haven't been diagnosed with SAD but the shorter days definitely affect me, it's one of the reasons I never look forward to summer ending.

Cathy said...

I'm another who is not impressed when the seasons change and the length of daylight becomes less and less. I seem to notice it more and more as the older I get.
Spending time in Queensland during our winter certainly helps - the hours of daylight are brighter with more sunshine and being further north (closer to the equator) the days are also warmer than down here in Melbourne all of which helps tackle the winter 'blues'

Jules said...

I wouldn't think I suffer from SAD, although I'm not a fan of these dark gloomy days. I try to ensure I get outdoors, exercise regularly and eat well. X

coffeeontheporchwithme said...

Husband, who always felt he was affected by SAD, recently found out he was seiously low in Vit. D. There has to be a connection! -Jenn

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

It's good that you brought this disorder to the forefront, Jan. There have been numerous studies, including those showing the physiological changes, along with the psychological changes. This is also a disorder that isn't like pregnancy where you either are or you aren't or that you either do or do not have cancer. SAD is measured on a continuum from none to subject must be hospitalized. Anything in between is dependent on many factors including age, support system, person's locale, and their mental health to name just a few. Thanks again for this article.

handmade by amalia said...

We get quite a lot of sunshine around here in wintertime but still pay a price for straying so far from a natural and sensible way of life, I am sure. An interesting post, Jan!
Amalia
xo

Out of Sight L said...

I had to save you (in my favourites that is) because I like what you are doing my daughter-in-law has that disorder so I would do anything I could to help so I saved your blog so I can get ideas that maybe will help her so bless you Eddie xo

Teresa said...

Muy interesante el articulo. Por España tenemos mucho sol, pero cuando oscurece más pronto no me gusta. Besitos.

Chris Lally said...

A friend uses a special light box designed to combat this with excellent results. Great post, Jan!

Ygraine said...

I have to admit that I do always feel rather 'low' at this time of year, when the days are growing increasingly shorter.
Trouble is, when it is so cold and miserable outside, it is often much more desirable to just stay indoors in the warm, isn't it?😕
Our house is north facing, so it is always gloomy in here, only much more so in winter.
I have just begun taking vitamin D supplements, so hopefully this will help??

Thank you so much for this invaluable information. It has been very helpful.😊😊

Hugs xxx

Jan/JFM said...

"Jan could you do me a huge favour can you tell the Low-Carb-Diabetic that someone that I love very much has this seasonal disorder so I saved her blog but I can't comment because she has that prove you're nor a robot at the end and my laptop clicks but as soon as it does it disappears and I can't leave a comment. Please tell her how grateful I am for her blog so that maybe I can help someone |I love. In Fact I will post about this tomorrow that those whose blogs has prove you are not a robot 8 times out of ten I can't get through...."

Jan, this is a message left on my blog from "Out of Sight L". She asked me to please let you know that she wants to comment on your blog but is unable to. L is a trusted friend of mine and a good blogger so I am passing on her message to you. You can find her blog on my blog page.
Another great article!!!
Thank you...Jan

Lowcarb team member said...

NOTE … re the two comments received above from 'Out of Sight L and Jan/JFM

I have replied to both bloggers on their own blogs, but thank them both for leaving their thoughts, comments and being helpful to their fellow bloggers.
To me that is what 'blogland' is all about :)

Out of Sight L said...
I had to save you (in my favourites that is) because I like what you are doing my daughter-in-law has that disorder so I would do anything I could to help so I saved your blog so I can get ideas that maybe will help her so bless you Eddie xo

Hello there 'L', please see my reply on your blog :)


Jan/JFM said...
"Jan could you do me a huge favour can you tell the Low-Carb-Diabetic that someone that I love very much has this seasonal disorder so I saved her blog but I can't comment because she has that prove you're nor a robot at the end and my laptop clicks but as soon as it does it disappears and I can't leave a comment. Please tell her how grateful I am for her blog so that maybe I can help someone |I love. In Fact I will post about this tomorrow that those whose blogs has prove you are not a robot 8 times out of ten I can't get through...."

Jan, this is a message left on my blog from "Out of Sight L". She asked me to please let you know that she wants to comment on your blog but is unable to. L is a trusted friend of mine and a good blogger so I am passing on her message to you. You can find her blog on my blog page.
Another great article!!!
Thank you...Jan

Hello there Jan, please see my reply on your blog :)

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Thanks to everyone who takes time to leave comments, it is appreciated.

All the best Jan and Eddie

Sue said...

What an interesting article. I know I'm much happier in Summer, but I think that's a combination of everything about Summer, but grey days really do get me down xx

baili said...

what an excellent piece from article Jan
i really appreciate your effort to bring awareness about lifestyle we have today

here sun is shining most of the year so villages and small cities have less such kind of problems ,so people have created other kinds of to worry about :(

but in big cities winter or summer ,no difference in lifestyle ,people mostly stay indoors and depressed in result
wishing you peace and health in days ahead my friend!

Anne (cornucopia) said...

Good, informative article. I've been feeling tired the past few weeks, even though here in Connecticut US we did the "Fall back" clock change and I gained an hour of sleep that weekend. And you're right about the lack of daylight hours: at the peak of Winter, the commute to work is done in darkness in both the morning and at night. Ugh. We have more sunlight than Ireland, though, at least in the Winter, because they are farther north than we are. (But then they have more sunlight in the Summer, compared to us here in CT.)

Martha said...

This is definitely not my favourite time of year. I thrive when there's more daylight, so I'm looking forward to when we begin having more of it again.

italiafinlandia said...

This is a problem for many people...