Spring has Sprung

By on 03 03, 2014 in mental health

Hopefully where you are reading this, there is a bright yellow light in the sky today. It has been quite a while since we were graced with its presence, but isn’t it a lovely sight! With the recent rain, floods and storms, you become more appreciative of the bright light that brings a touch of warmth and maybe even a smile. Let us welcome the sunshine!

The winter has been a strange one. Yes it has been cold at times, but mostly it has been grey. The weather can have a big impact on our mood, and with lots of people over the past couple of months having to face additional daily challenges associated with flooding, moods can be low.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that has a seasonal pattern and is thought to affect about 2 million people in the UK (www.nhs.uk). The symptoms of SAD recur regularly each winter and usually start between September and November, continuing until March or April and are similar to those for depression.  These include a lack of interest in life, lethargy, feelings of anxiety and an inability to cope.

Treatments for SAD include counselling, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and antidepressants, which are used to treat other types of depression. SAD can also be treated with light therapy which for some people can improve mood considerably. Light therapy involves sitting in front of, or underneath a light box – a lamp in various designs with a very bright light.

SAD is thought to be linked to reduced exposure to sunlight during the shorter days of the year so light therapy can work by simulating the sunlight that’s missing during the darker winter months. The additional light encourages your brain to reduce the production of melatonin (the hormone that makes you sleepy) and increase the production of serotonin (the hormone that affects your mood).

Let’s welcome spring with open arms so we can all feel more motivated and bask in the longer days.



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