As the winter continues it’s an appropriate time to give a boost to those of us who suffer with SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder. As many as 29% of our population are thought to suffer some sort of low mood associated with the onset of winter. About 8% of people can suffer with SAD which is a depressive disorder most likely triggered by a lack of sunlight. This is believed to increase the amount of melatonin in our bodies, which makes us sleepier, and decrease the levels of serotonin, which lowers our moods.

Hypnotherapy is a wonderful way to help with depression, anxiety and eating disorders and it teaches us life long skills. Solution focused hypnotherapy helps to stimulate our bodies’ natural ability to produce the feel good chemicals such as Serotonin, Dopamine, Endorphins and Noradrenalin so that we are not solely reliant on prescription drugs or sunshine to lift our moods. It also helps to change our unconscious patterns of behaviour so that we feel more positive and back in control.

People who are affected by the shorter days and lack of sunlight can suffer from a variety of symptoms, which are not obviously present during the spring and summer. Once spring is on its way their moods start to lift and their energy returns, sometimes to the point of hypomania (over activity). It can be quite a debilitating disorder for some as reactions to the dark messes with their circadian rhythm and affects mood, sleep and appetite. People can suffer from a wide range of symptoms rating from depression, lack of energy, loss of libido, social and relationship issues, overeating and craving carbohydrates, anxiety, irritability, sleep disturbances, a sense or hopelessness and inability to find joy in things, sudden mood changes, indecisiveness to concentration problems. This in turn also affects feelings of self-esteem and guilt as well as productivity. If one is feeling tired and unenthusiastic one is less likely to go out and see any daylight or get the exercise that can bring in some feel good endorphins. Many people simply feel down and tired and suddenly bounce back with a smile on their faces when the sun pops out for a few hours.

When SAD keeps someone from going to work, makes them feel like curling up in a ball in the duvet and starts to erode their relationships then something needs to be done about it. This is a real condition and relatives and friends also need to be understanding and supportive. If someone is already dealing with life issues such as the loss of someone, financial pressures or concerns about over indulgence as the Christmas season approaches, it is an even heavier burden.

Our brains tend to repeat patterns of behaviour and are sensitive to associations. So if we have suffered with any of these negative symptoms over several winters, then we can unconsciously worry as the autumn starts and unfortunately expect to grind our way through months of feeling miserable.

So what can we do about such feelings? How do we not only prepare ourselves for them but how do we deal with them when they seem to weigh us down? Well apart from moving to the southern hemisphere there are treatments available! One of the most effective and enjoyable is Solution Focused Hypnotherapy. If you are suffering with SAD it is important to recognise it and to get the support you need to help lift you out of it as much as possible. Even simply knowing that someone recognises and understands what you go through can be a huge relief.

Checking with our GPS that there is nothing else going on such as continual depression and anxiety that is not light dependent, or other hormonal imbalances such as an under active thyroid or any other deficiencies is important. A Doctor might prescribe a modern antidepressant that is a Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI). However one needs to bear in mind that one must not suddenly come off them as the spring arrives.

There are several Light Boxes on the market the one can order on line and expose your eyes to a boost of light that is much stronger than normal bulbs. It is easy to have one by the side of your computer or on the dining table so that you expose your body to more of the mood enhancing light rays. It is a good idea to start using one for about 35 minutes a day as the next autumnal season begins.

Don’t let the winter get you down. Make that first step towards change and take action to help yourself.

The Good News is that from December 21st we have been heading towards the spring and the days are getting longer!


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