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How To Prevent Seasonal Mood Disorder

When the winter season arrives, the days begin to get shorter and shorter. During seasonal shifts, it is not uncommon for people to experience alterations in their moods. Commonly, negative feelings and attitudes are associated with the winter months. Though it was once believed to be simply a dislike for the cold; research in recent decades has shown otherwise. Indications suggest that the bad moods that are felt in the autumn and winter are not solely caused by an affinity for the spring and summer seasons.

In fact, since 1984 psychiatrists have been testing and studying the ill effects that people experience during the winter.  Originally theorized by Dr. Norman Rosenthal, negative feelings and emotions during specific times of the year are often attributed to a seasonal disorder. People call it “the winter blues” or “the winter sadness” (though it may occur in summer, occasionally.) Doctors refer to this condition as seasonal affective disorder (S.A.D.). Whatever the name, it is a serious condition and should be treated accordingly.

What the Causes Are

The causes of seasonal affective disorder have been researched and tested by many professionals in the fields of both psychology and psychiatry. The Harvard School of Health has established that one of the leading causes of this ailment is lowered Vitamin D levels in the affected. The reduced daylight in the winter months is a major factor to the existence of this serious malady.

Some of the factors that lead to this disorder (and many other psychological and physical ailments) are genetics, poor exercise/nutrition and poor air quality. Since genetics cannot be altered, environmental conditions and habitual changes should be taken into consideration.

Recognizing S.A.D.

If you have ever noticed a decline in either your happiness or the mood of another during specific seasons, it is highly possible that you have witnessed the effects of S.A.D.

Symptoms vary from person to person. However, some of the more common symptoms are listed below.

·    Reduced motivation

·    Lack of interest in everyday activities

·    Increased or abnormal sleeping habits

·    Insomnia

·    Altered eating habits (many sufferers report eating more carbohydrates)

·    Altered mood or attitude

These are only a few of the many ill effects that the disorder can have on individuals. Taking steps to treat and prevent the disorder can better both your mood and your life; possibly, even the moods of those around you.

S.A.D. Treatment

Light therapy

The first physician to discover and effectively treat S.A.D. was Dr. Rosenthal. He used a medical practice called light therapy to relieve the symptoms of patients. Light therapy can help to return Vitamin D to the body; restoring the necessary levels that are optimal for good health.

In many areas of the world, the period of sunlight experienced daily is gradually reduced with the passing days of autumn and winter. Areas above what is known as the 37th parallel have substantial daylight reduction in the winter. Regions such as San Francisco and Philadelphia are above the 37th parallel. Beijing and Athens also lie above this border.

Sunlight

The sun provides the body with Vitamin D. With less sunlight, the necessary levels of Vitamin D are not supplied to people. It is recommended by health professionals that people get at least 15 minutes of sunlight every day.

Although Vitamin D levels are a leading contributor to the disorder, new studies indicate that there are other significant variables that should be addressed.

 

Air Quality

New research suggests that air quality may play a major part in this seasonal condition. During the winter, many people are more confined due to the cold. The air of an office or home can become contaminated and lead to an assortment of health problems.

Adding an air purifier to a home or office will not only greatly reduce the amount of airborne particles that are breathed in; but also, increase the body’s defenses against physical and mental ailments. Owning an air purifier can significantly assist in the treatment and prevention of S.A.D.

There are also many office air purifiers to choose from that can raise the quality of the air in any home or office. Indoor air purifier reviews are offered to assist people who are shopping for the right air purification device for their home or office.

 

Exercise and Nutrition

Two extremely important keys to good health are a person’s diet and exercise habits. Depression can develop slowly and the symptoms can easily go unnoticed. It is advisable to make plans for the cold. Monitoring eating habits and swapping outdoor activities with indoor exercise can ensure a higher level of readiness for winter ailments.

Staying healthy in the winter is the best way to stay happy. Moods and attitudes can be greatly improved by recognition, treatment and prevention of this common ailment.

 

*****

Matthew Wainscott has a passion for writing. After finishing school, he pursued his career as a creative service provider. Matthew currently provides content to online organizations.

Photo Courtesy of Rick Imamato

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10 Ways To Be Happy, On Purpose

The Purpose of Adversity

  • http://originalcialis.com/ Anabelle

    This is a
    great article, and a great topic to explore. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://Mazzastick.com Justin

    What an important topic to write about Matt. During the winter months I have to go outside in order to keep my sanity. I will chop some wood or clean up lawn debris or whatever else I can think of.

    • http://dailybitsofwisdom.com Kyle Beck

      I feel the same way Justin. Just this morning in Ohio it was below freezing, had snowed a few inches the previous night, and was blowing pretty good but I still went out for a morning walk. Even if I couldn’t feel my face after an hour outside I know I’ll feel a lot better the rest of the day because of it.

  • http://thebooksthatchangedmylife.com Marc Van Der Linden

    Great article. I recognize the symptoms by experience. Not only during winter time, but during all  longer periods of sunless days – which frequently happens in Belgium, I experience this S.A.D. symptoms. Some people don’t like rain, but I like rain more then sunless days.

    What I do to help myself to overcome this is – searching for sunlight if available, taking vitamin D and sports. 

  • http://www.taoofunfear.com Matt, Tao of Unfear

    Last year I gave up alcohol during the winter months, and that really helped (or, at least, seemed to). Adding a depressant on top of already blue times is just a bad combination.

    This year, I’m focusing my attention on relationships and exercise. It gets cold enough here that most people lock themselves indoors and don’t see each other for the whole winter. I’m trying to make regular plans to see people.

    On the exercise front, I’m trying to take up running, somewhat successfully. It gets the heart pumping well enough that you stay warm, even if it is a bit chilly outside (as long as it isn’t windy).

  • http://www.taoofunfear.com Matt, Tao of Unfear

    Last year I gave up alcohol during the winter months, and that really helped (or, at least, seemed to). Adding a depressant on top of already blue times is just a bad combination.

    This year, I’m focusing my attention on relationships and exercise. It gets cold enough here that most people lock themselves indoors and don’t see each other for the whole winter. I’m trying to make regular plans to see people.

    On the exercise front, I’m trying to take up running, somewhat successfully. It gets the heart pumping well enough that you stay warm, even if it is a bit chilly outside (as long as it isn’t windy).

  • http://sad-lights.net/ Allison

    SAD lights can really be helpful… they help me out a lot on days that are cloudy outside and I can’t go take a walk to cheer me up.  Great post :)

  • http://www.clintcora.com Clint Cora

    We are particularly prone to this type of ailment during the winter months up here in Canada.  Lots of gray, cold skies from December through to March in Ontario.  However, one thing I always recommend to people here is to pick up an activity that one can enjoy, hopefully with others, outside during the winter.  There are lots of different activities from snow skiing (downhill and cross-country), to snow shoeing to dog sledding to toboganning to ice fishing, etc.

    The best way to beat winter is to learn to enjoy it rather than try to escape it.  Winter is actually a great time for me since I’m an avid skier enjoying an average of 50 days out on the ski slopes per season.  You can’t beat a sunny day out on the ski slopes and nature.  Even if there is no sunshine, the fresh air without pollution, the activities and the company one keeps outside will still make the winter days enjoyable.

  • http://twitter.com/SaunaSherpa Devin w/ Sunlighten

    Great article Matt and very relevant. In my business and around this time of year I talk to more and more folks who are experiencing S.A.D. I’ll be sure to share some of your tips with them. I work with folks who implement Color-Light & Far Infrared Sauna Therapy to combat S.A.D. Infrared is the same heat that we experience from the Sun, therefore helps stimulate many of the same responses. Check it out and let me know if you have any questions.

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  • http://bestsadlights.com/ Jacobsen

    The latest research about how air quality affects SAD makes sense. Afterall, we already know that high density negative ions can improve SAD, and they exist in the air. Thank you for reporting the latest research.

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