SADs, or seasonal affective disorders are a form of depression that strike some 30% of people in the U.S. and more in North America in general. While they more common in Northern latitudes they are still common enough everywhere to be of concern for how you feel and how you perform.
The most common form is a mild depression that strikes in September/October, and spikes again in January and April.
Contrary to what many people believe SADs are not due to a change in weather in most cases. They are due to a change in, and specifically, a decrease in daylight hours.
Another misconception is they are worse during the shortest days of the year. Also not true- they tend to be worse when there is the most rapid change either up or down in hours of daylight- hence the 3-fold occurrence noted above.
How to fight off SADs and keep it from slowing you down during the seasonal changes.
- Maintain a regular sleep schedule. People don’t generally like to get up when it’s still dark or stay up hours after sunset. But whatever your regular sleep cycle you should strive not to disrupt it by more than 30 minutes during these seasonal changes.
- Maintain your regular exercise schedule. The tendency is to “hibernate” which means doing less. If anything, you should increase the amount of exercise you get by 20 minutes a session!
- Don’t forget your Omega 3’s! Omega 3 fish oils are part of most hormone cycles and part of the biologic time clocks which got so much attention at this year’s Nobel Prize in Medicine awards.
- Use a light box around 1 hour after sunset for 30 minutes. I have a really simple small one that I have on while I work at my computer. Even the daylight bulbs for the little spot lights that clamp on or stand behind your desk work reasonably well. If you are a real SADs sufferer (like me) then spring for a real light box.
- And don’t forget to take a full dose of Fish Oil (4-6 caps a day) every day!
Some people spend the entire winter in a low-grade funk! If you start now you can put all that behind you and remain happy and productive year-round!!!