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How to recognise and fight against seasonal affective disorder

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Do you feel tired, unproductive, sad and irritable, particularly when Autumn and Winter arrive? You could be one of the 10 to 20% of people affected by seasonal affective disorder (SAD) from Autumn on and sometimes all throughout the winter. The lack of sunshine is the main cause for this temporary drop in morale. So how can you recognise it and fight against it? 

The symptoms of seasonal affective disorder

Like in a depressive episode, seasonal affective disorder can lead to ongoing sadness that is more pronounced in the morning and evening, a lack of interest, irritability, sleep problems, weight gain or loss, and even suicidal thoughts.

Compared to other types of depression, the people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder tend to have hypersomnia (they sleep too much) and they tend to overeat, generally going more so for sugary foods. These people have a tendency to put on weight in Winter.

Seasonal affective disorder can be difficult in daily life, especially at work and more generally in your relationships with others.

The causes of seasonal affective disorder

In Autumn, the change in the hour, but mainly the reduction in the amount and intensity of sunlight, are the main triggering factors in seasonal affective disorder, which mainly affects women (75%). 2 to 3% of children are also affected, from about ten years old.

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How to get rid of seasonal affective disorder?

Nowadays, there are a number of ways of naturally getting rid of seasonal affective disorder, other than by taking anti-depressents, which have side effects that can be even more dangerous…

For example, light therapy consists of exposing yourself to to sunlight as much as possible in your daily life. This method has been well proven. Phototherapy is hot on its heels, which is comprised of sessions in specially adapted UV light boxes for a half an hour to an hour.

Physical exercise and sport are also great natural treatments for seasonal affective disorder, because the body releases endorphins during physical effort, which are widely known for their anti-depressive effects.

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Certain foods such as fruit and vegetables are also known for fighting fatigue and energy loss, such as foods rich in magnesium.

Many other natural alternative therapies exist: you could look into seeing a bio-energetician, a herbalist (who heals using plants), an acupuncturist, a hypnotist, etc., before going down the route of psychotherapy and anti-depressants.

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