The onset of rain after a long dry spell is always a welcome relief, and though no-one wants to complain about life-giving water, extended cloudy periods can cause health issues.
Children are a great example of how rainy days can affect us. If they are stuck inside they can certainly get very grumpy – the lack of exercise and fresh air play a big part in their mental health, but, it’s also the sun which helps lift their mood.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a condition where people who usually have good mental health, have symptoms similar to those of depression, but they occur repetitively at a particular time of year. This is most likely to happen in winter with seemingly endless days of rain and cloudy skies.
It’s these cloudy skies that cause the problem.
If you have any feelings out of the ordinary of persistent low mood; loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities; feelings irritability; feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness; low self-esteem; tearfulness; feeling stressed or anxious; a reduced sex drive; feeling less sociable; being less active than normal; lacking in energy and sleepy during the day; sleeping for longer than normal and find it hard to get up in the morning; finding it difficult to concentrate; or, an increased appetite, but these feelings only appear at certain times of the year, you could be suffering from SAD*.
Exposure to sunlight, or the lack of it, is a significant factor in SAD and though there may be several other contributing factors, this is one we can easily deal with.
While it’s important to not get sunburnt, sunlight is one of the best and most constant sources of Vitamin D. It is absorbed directly through the skin, and countries where there is either little winter sun, or folk cover-up owing to cooler weather – even if there is sun – can block this necessary vitamin from getting in. So a Vitamin D supplement** is a good place to start if you are lacking.
Light therapy is another way to treat SAD.
Light therapy is administered by exposure to artificial light. A light therapy session would consist of the patient sitting near a light therapy box which gives off bright light that mimics natural outdoor light.
The other solution is to book an annual trip to somewhere sunny and have a good mental health break while you enjoy blue skies and sunlight.
While the jury is out on the exact causes of SAD (this is the same ‘jury’ who took a long time to accept that it existed in the first place), we know it is a real condition and we know there are simple methods that can help you deal with it.
*Always consult your health practitioner for a health diagnoses
**Always consult your health practitioner before starting any course of medication or supplements