Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a form of depression linked to lack of sunlight. Onset of symptoms occurs annually during winter months with more cases occurring in areas with longer and more severe winters.
Symptoms include low mood, feeling abnormally sad and weepy, hopeless, worthless and guilty, often with a preoccupation of death and dying. Concentration is poor and motivation is low with agitation, irritability, and restlessness. Sleep is difficult with delayed onset, early waking, and/or sleeping too much. Weight loss or weight gain is common. Physical symptoms are also prevalent and include headaches, generalized aches, pains, and lethargy. All symptoms of vitamin D deficiency.
Light therapy, UVB light, has been used successfully to reverse or diminish symptoms of SAD and to increase vitamin D levels. (Remember vitamin D is actually a hormone produced by the body after exposure to the sun).
Light therapy can be provided through artificial light—light boxes—or by the sun itself. Weather and work permitting, an hour or two in the winter sun, even on an overcast day, can produce benefits.
If you suffer from annual winter blues or from full-blown SAD, consider a move closer to the equator.
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