Winter Blues - 7 ways to overcome it

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression which affects people as the nights get longer and colder, the days get shorter, darker and gloomier and the weather forecasts get worse.

It is perhaps not surprising that enormous numbers of people regularly sink into a depression in the autumn from which they do not emerge until the blossom is back on the trees in the spring.

SAD isn't new. Hippocrates wrote about patients becoming depressed in the winter two thousand years ago.

But doctors have only recently realised just how serious SAD can be. And it has been established that it is a lack of light that is probably the main cause.

You could be a SAD sufferer if you answer YES to any of these simple questions during the winter months:

1. Do you feel tired and sleepy ?
2. Has your appetite increased - and have you started to put on weight?
3. Do you feel unwilling to go out in the evenings - but prefer to stay at home in front of the TV?
4. Do you binge on chocolate, biscuits and cake?
5. Do you have real difficulty in getting out of bed in the morning?
6. Are you losing interest in life?

If you have answered YES to any of these questions I suggest that you talk to your doctor. He may be able to offer specific treatment (such as helping you find a light box from which you can obtain artificial light treatment).

Here are some techniques you can use to help you defeat SAD this winter.

1. Eat a good breakfast - fruit juice, eggs, cereals, wholemeal bread, tea and coffee will all help. At lunchtime eat foods that give you energy but avoid alcohol. Have a very light snack in the evening.
2. Try to arrange your commitments so that you see some daylight every day - get up early or go outside at lunchtime if you work in an enclosed factory or office all day long.
3. If you feel tired in the daytime you may need to go to bed earlier - it's common to need more sleep in winter.
4. Get outdoors and exercise at weekends - a good walk will do you an enormous amount of good.
5. Make sure that light bulbs are powerful enough - the difference in price between a 100 watt light bulb and a 150 watt light bulb is very small.
6. Make sure you keep warm.
7. Try to plan a short winter break - it will be something to look forward to during the dark months ahead, particularly if you can afford somewhere sunny.

Copyright Vernon Coleman 2004