Are you a SAD-do?!

By Megan Smiley, Apr 27 2015 02:37PM

SAD is Seasonal Affective Disorder. According to the SADA (Seasonal Affective Disorder Association) it is a depressive illness caused by shortened daylight hours and lack of sunlight. Only 2% of the UK population suffer from full-blown SAD, but there is sub-syndromal SAD where the symptoms of SAD cause discomfort but not to a debilitating level, this effects 20% of the UK population.

I whole-heartedly believe I'm affected by SAD, probably in the sub-syndromal SAD category as the symptoms aren't life altering but my mood and motivation levels are definitely affected: sunshine gives me energy and makes me feel happy. I would honestly struggle to live in a home that is dark and lacking natural light; no lower ground floor flats for me!

The theory behind SAD is that as living organisms we need sunlight, specifically the vitamin D in there. There are many issues that are linked to lack of vitamin D including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and dementia as highlighted in The Guardian's recent article on How to avoid vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is also in oily fish, and vitamin D supplements can be taken which the Government advises for pregnant and breastfeeding women, children from six months to five years and over 65s.

Humans historically worked outside: hunting, farming and such, and until relatively recently - the past century or so, that was still the case, therefore getting enough sunlight wasn't an issue. However, now the service industry has taken over, the air conditioned office is the main working environment, meaning many of us don't see any daylight during the winter months.

When you mention SAD many people seem to think they are affected by it. So does that mean everyone is happier and less depressed in summer? Well I can definitely say most people are cheerier on sun-filled days. But on these sunny days, with long working hours how do you obtain enough sunlight to battle this problem? Get out and about more: at lunch times, weekends and days off. Make the most of the time you have to get some sunshine. A walk on a sunny and frosty winter's day can give you the same boost as being in your bikini on a beach all day.

As with many things in life, it's about time management and making the most of a situation. The expression make hay while the sun shines couldn't be more apt!

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