With the arrival of the cold season, our mental and physical well-being can be challenged. Fewer daylight hours and cooler temperatures can lead to a sense of depression and general discomfort, which is described as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Let’s explore what it is, as well as the best natural remedies to address the season change.
The climatic and environmental fluctuations associated with the change of seasons can have a negative impact on the body, resulting in both physical and psychological discomfort. Among the first to study this type of disorder was psychiatrist Norman E. Rosenthal, who coined the term Seasonal Affective Disorder in 1984.
The causes of this depressive state are not entirely clear. According to researchers, the origin of the disorder could be traced to the link between the production of hormones and the exposition to sunlight. People with SAD may exhibit reduced production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter involved in mood regulation. Since sunlight helps regulate serotonin levels, this would explain the connection between malaise and seasonal change. Other findings, however, suggest that people with SAD produce too much melatonin, a hormone that is critical to maintaining the normal sleep-wake cycle.
Whatever the causes, the seasonal affective disorder is characterized by recurring symptoms:
In most cases, symptoms begin in late autumn and disappear during spring and summer. This phenomenon is known as winter SAD or winter depression. Some people, however, may have depressive episodes during the spring and summer months, although this is less common.
Women are usually most affected than men by seasonal changes. The geographical distribution is also interesting: people living in northern areas of the planet, such as Canada, Iceland, and Scandinavian countries, where the amount of sunlight is very limited in winter, are the most impacted.
To counteract the symptoms associated with the season change, you need to take care of your body and mind, adjusting habits and rhythms to the new conditions. First of all, it is necessary to follow a proper diet rich in seasonal fruits and vegetables, practice regular physical activity, and spend as much time as possible outdoors, to make the most of the daylight hours.
Where ailments are more severe and require professional help, psychotherapy and specific medication may be recommended.
Nature also offers us many remedies for the change of season. Here are some useful extracts to deal with a drop in energy and motivation, mood swings, and the first seasonal ailments:
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To sum up, disorders related to season change are very common and occur with different intensities from individual to individual. It is important you pay attention to your body and take care of your health at the times when it is most needed. The change of season can be an opportunity to rethink daily rhythms, slow your pace and prioritize your well-being.