During the winter months – particularly December, January and February – ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’ (SAD) affects approximately 500,000 people in the UK.
The shortened daylight hours and lack of good sunlight in the winter months are thought to cause a biochemical imbalance with a part of the brain known as the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus “rules sleep, appetite, sex drive, temperature, mood and activity”(mind.org.uk). Without good quality and consistent light these normal processes slow down causing seasonal changes in mood and behaviour.
It can be seriously debilitating and is certainly not something to ignore.
Are you one of them?
- It can happen at any age, most commonly in the 18-30 age bracket.
- Having migrated from the ‘tropics’ increases likelihood of symptoms.
- Have you found over 2-3 consecutive winters a noticeable mood change?
Common symptoms are:
- Sleep disturbance – oversleeping or difficulty staying awake
- Loss of libido
- Abusive or irritable behaviour
- Extreme mood swings
- Depression – feelings of apathy, low self-esteem, despair
In about 20% of sufferers the condition is deemed ‘mild’, as the ‘winter blues’. Those with severe SAD (approximately 2-5%) cannot function through the winter without continual treatment.
If you feel you may be suffering there is something that can be done. Do not suffer alone or in silence.
What can be done to help?
Bright light therapy (Phototherapy)
- 1-2hours of use a day with light boxes
- Effective in helping 80% of sufferers
- Advisable to seek advice before embarking on this yourself
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
- The majority aim to increase the levels and activity of Serotonin (neurotransmitter – ‘brain chemical’). Serotonin is often found to be low in people with depression.
- St John’s Wort
Derived from Hypericum, St John’s Wort is proven to be a successful antidepressant. It does however affect some prescribed medicines so check with your GP before taking. It is advisable to avoid using it in conjunction with light therapy. Its properties can react negatively with light.
- Ginkgo Biloba extract
Widely used in Chinese medicine, Ginkgo Biloba extract derived from the tree’s leaves is a powerful antidepressant and antioxidant that increases blood flow to the brain and other parts of the body. Once again it may interact with some prescribed medication. Seek advice from your G.P before taking.
- British Association Cognitive Behavioural Therapists
- British Association of Holistic Medicine
- Light Therapy
Chiropractic Clinic wins National Quality Award
The Wickford Chiropractic Clinic was one of the first to achieve the ‘Patient Partnership Quality Mark’ (PPQM), awarded this week by The College of Chiropractors.
The PPQM award was devised by the College of Chiropractors’ patient partnership group and recognises the clinic’s excellence in meeting the expectations patients have about their chiropractic care.
“Chiropractors provide safe and effective treatment, and we are proud to say that the award recognises this practice’s commitment to meeting and exceeding patients’ expectations of their environment and level of care. We constantly strive to improve our level of service and always welcome feedback from patients.”