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Six Ways to Tackle SAD

‘Tis the season of pumpkins and shorter daylight hours – which means, for at least 10 percent of us, it’s also time for the annual onset of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Triggered by lack of light, the condition is typified by a regular depression that drifts in around October, and only lifts in spring.

Sunlight shining through Autumn forest trees

In a nutshell, the trigger is the effect of less light on our circadian rhythms. “Your circadian rhythm is a 24-hour body cycle – your internal clock,” says Dr Xu, A&E doctor and medical director at REDjuvenate Medical.

“During these cycles, your body carries out essential functions; the most important is the sleep-wake cycle. A decrease in light can disrupt this internal clock and lead to feelings of depression.”

But there are solutions. Here are six ways to help you tackle SAD:

  • Go to bed and get up at the same time every day – this helps to regulate your circadian rhythms.

  • Eat a Mediterranean diet, with oily fish, nuts, legumes, wholegrains, vegetables and olive oil. Research has found that around 90 percent of the ‘happy chemical’ serotonin is created by gut microbes, which communicate with the brain via the vagus nerve, and this diet supports healthy microbes.

  • Get outside every day in daylight, even for a short walk. If possible, aim to get out in the morning. It doesn’t need to be sunny, it just needs to be outdoors.

  • Exercise. Gentle exercise is always better than none. And a brisk walk is better than a stroll, according to a new study.

  • Take an oral vitamin D supplement daily. Vitamin D has many other benefits too. Here are a handful of articles extolling the benefits of Vitamin D - many of which may surprise you.

  • Invest in a lightbox – take advice from your doctor on what level and frequency suits your symptoms.


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