Are you feeling SAD this winter?


Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which happens in the cold months can make people feel as gloomy as the bleak landscape. Here’s how to battle it…


Cold days may mean hot food, walks in the breeze and romantic weather, but for some it can also translate into feelings of sadness, loss of appetite etc. Called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or winter depression, this is said to occur more often in women than in men. And while it’s not serious — SAD — which makes you feel moody, can ruin your social calendar as you feel withdrawn.


Causes and how it affects

The lack of sunlight is said to make the brain to work extra time and produce melatonin, the hormone linked to depression. Says psychologist Dr Seema Hingorrany, “In addition, what happens is when you have more sunrays on you, you tend to be outdoors and more active. The opposite then happens in the absence of this. I have had cases where the person’s whole outlook changed when it got dark early in winter and the grey evenings only added to his/her depression, so the cause is hormonal and environmental-induced. Plus, the body clock also gets affected as the activities affected — you may not be able to enjoy that walk at 7 pm in the evening light as it gets dark early.” She adds that SAD can happen to anyone. “It can affect anyone at any age and for those already going through trauma or suffering from genetic depression, this can be a trigger. To an office-goer, the biggest hindrance is, it can badly affect a person’s work life as he/she shows cognitive decline with the mental deficiency being reduced.”


How light therapy works

While there are various courses of treatment such as taking antidepressant medication after consulting a doctor, and going in for cognitivebehavioural therapy is more common here, light therapy is also said to be helpful. It uses a special lamp with a very bright light that acts just like light would be emitted from the sun. Says mind-body consultant, Dr Shreepad Khedekar, “Increased exposure to sunlight can improve symptoms of SAD and research has shown that light boxes work to revitalise the mood and boost energy. They give out artificial light that imitate the sun’s rays and emit anywhere from 2,500 lux to 10,000 lux (measure of intensity). Light therapy has to be performed daily and the best time to perform is in the morning for 30 minutes.”


5 ways out:

Dr Seema shares a few tips… Exercising, as a coping intervention. Practicing yoga and breathing to reduce anxiety. Eating right. Keeping yourself busy with a hobby. Maintaining discipline with regard to timings.


Vitamin C foods can beat the winter gloom

A report says indulging in Vitamin C-rich food items and eating light can put the sunshine and happiness back into your life. Here’s how…


Beat fatigue: Consume recommended Vitamin C levels daily. This is important to help support your immune system not only in winter, but all year long. It may also help contribute to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue.


Go grill: Grilling is known to be a healthy way to cook food so bring the barbecue out.


Make meals lighter: We tend to more , particularly with regard to carbohydrates. The calorie intake also increases, making us more prone to weight gain. When the weather is cold and miserable, many of us fill up on carb-loaded comfort foods, whereas in the summer we’re far more likely to eat salads and fruit! Having a higher food intake like in the warmer weather will help to bring back that ‘summer’ feeling.