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Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Seasonal Affective Disorder otherwise known as SAD is a mood disorder associated with people experiencing depressive symptoms in the winter months, although can be experienced as early as September and as late as April.

1 in 50 people in the UK are thought to have SAD, with as many as 1 in 8 experiencing winter blues, a less severe form of the condition. Whilst SAD can affect any age individual, it's most common age of onset is 20-30 affecting four times as many women as men.

The cause of SAD is not exactly known, however the amount of sunlight received has a direct effect on the number of nerve messages sent from the eyes to the brain. The activity of these nerve messages affects the level of certain brain chemicals (such as serotonin) and hormones (such as melatonin). The human body uses light cues to time certain functions. Properly timed rhythms regulate mood, sleep, appetite, digestion and energy. These internal rhythms are called circadian rhythms, when they fall out of balance, our body clocks are unregulated and the symptoms of SAD can be experienced.

Symptoms are diverse, usually associated with low mood and depression and include:
• a desire to oversleep and difficulty staying awake, but in some cases, disturbed sleep and early morning wakening;
• feeling fatigue and an inability to carry out normal routine;
• a craving for carbohydrates and sweet foods, usually resulting in weight gain;
• feelings of misery, guilt and loss of self-esteem, sometimes hopelessness and despair, sometimes apathy and loss of feelings;
• an irritability and desire to avoid social contact;
• a tension and inability to tolerate stress;
• a decreased interest in sex and physical contact;
• in some sufferers, extremes of mood and short periods of hypermania (over activity) in spring and autumn.

SAD symptoms usually recur each winter and disappear each spring.

There are many treatment options available that do not need to include anti-depressants. Most commonly practiced is light therapy, which is effective in 80% of sufferers using as little as 30 minutes of treatment daily.

Other successful treatment options include the use of amino acids that have a lifting effect on the mood. Vitamins and minerals that are necessary for energy production and herbal blends that can lift mood. To discuss these options and to receive an individualised treatment plan, contact Nutrition Mission to book an appointment.
Nutrition Mission have been invaluable in giving me nutritional advice and sorting out any nutritional problems I have. Also they looked at my lifestyle and have gone out of their way to get advice and publications to me. I have had problems with insomnia, weight-gain problems and general lifestyle, so my nutritional therapist has given great information as to how to look at my daily diet coupled with my ailments, which supplements to take and while the laymen guesses at a lot of this Nutrition Mission have clearly shown me the way forward!
Paula McCarthy
19 January 2010