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What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?


woman with seasonal affective disorder looking out of window

WHAT IS SAD?

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is a type of depression that quite often doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Could this be because it is by its very nature transitory - starting as it does in the Autumn, peaking in the Winter months before improving in the Spring? Six months of low moods and a lack of interest in life is a pretty big deal in my opinion. Or, dare I say it, could it be because SAD seems to affect more women than men? (It can and does affect both btw).


WHY DO PEOPLE SUFFER FROM SAD?

Scientists believe that the reduced sunlight in the Autumn/winter months disrupts the body’s biological clock, also known as your circadian rhythm. With the shorter daylight we experience a decrease in serotonin levels, the brain chemical that affects mood and feelings of wellbeing. As if that wasn’t enough, our bodies produce melatonin when it is dark which makes us sleepy, and that - when we can’t go to sleep - plays havoc with our bodies natural balance.


WHAT CAN WE DO?

Many of those that experience SAD use light therapy, vitamin D supplements, and/or antidepressants to help them through the winter months. However, aromatherapy is becoming increasingly popular as a complementary therapy as it can have remarkable antidepressant and therapeutic effects. Smell is the only one of our senses that has a direct link to the limbic system - the area at the front of the brain that is linked with emotion and memory so it makes sense to use it to help support those of us who suffer from SAD.


In my next post I will go through some of the essential oils that you might find most useful for helping with Seasonal Affective Disorder which I hope you will find useful.

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