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Beat the Winter Blues

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Beat the Winter Blues

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Written by: Kathryn Danzey
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Well if you were a dormouse you might be thinking about hibernation at the moment and that is exactly how some of us feel as we get to winter.  The nights draw in, mornings are dark, it would be nice to stay in bed just that bit longer, shame is our work patterns don’t allow for it so we looked at some ways that we could hit ‘the winter blues’ on the head.

Winter Blues are known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD, how aptly named as many of us do feel just that, SAD that sumer has ended and spring is some way off.

 What are the Symptoms of SAD and Winter Blues?

You probably recognise some of the symptoms below and tend to feel them coming on in September, for me the sign is when I see swallows lining up on the telegraph wires – I know they’re off to South Africa, me too I wish.  Here are the main symptoms, you may just experience a few but for some the switch is dramatic.

  • Sleep problems – oversleeping but not refreshed, cannot get out of bed, needing a nap in the afternoon
  • Overeating – carbohydrate craving leading to weight gain
  • Depression, despair, misery, guilt, anxiety – normal tasks become frustratingly difficult
  • Family / social problems – avoiding company, irritability, loss of libido, feeling emotionally ‘numb’
  • Lethargy – too tired to cope, everything an effort
  • Physical symptoms – often joint pain or stomach problems, lowered resistance to infection
  • Behavioural problems – especially in young people


Who does SAD Affect?

Interestingly the figure is around 2% of people suffer badly and 10% say they have mild symptoms, with women suffering more than men.  I think that figure is well of the mark and it would be great if we could have your feedback on this because I think most people have some symptoms.  How many of us are happy about the ‘nights closing in’ it would be great if you could click on the pole below to let us know how you feel.  The further you live from the equator the more likely you will experience the effect but apparently not so much when snow is down. Children and adolescents can also experience SAD

What causes SAD?

The problem is we respond to light it changes our brain chemistry, but why do some people have a worse experience than others?  Here’s the science bit:

Nerve centres in our brain controlling our daily rhythms and moods are stimulated by the amount of light entering the eyes. As night falls, the pineal gland starts to produce a substance called melatonin that tells our body clock it’s night time; bright light at daybreak is the signal for the gland to stop producing this melatonin. But on dull winter days, especially indoors, not enough light is received to trigger this waking up process.Light is also linked to serotonin (also known as or 5HT), a neurotransmitter in the brain.

This makes sense because low serotonin levels can cause depression and if you’re depressed it can be difficult to concentrate and complete what would normally be simple tasks. Serotonin levels increase with exposure to bright light – SSRI drugs such as Prozac have the same effect.

Treating SAD

So it’s simple, time to get on a plane in search of brightly lit climate be it sunshine or snow.  Ok, not so simple unless you are an ‘It girl’, but there is a solution that can help every day.   Using bright light in your home or work environment can relieve symptoms.

Simply using light at a brightness level of a spring morning for around 30 minutes a day will help to alleviate most peoples symptoms.  The light can be in the background, you don’t have to sit in front of it, so you can watch tv, read or work on your computer.

The light must be suitably bright. You need at least 2500lux (lux is the technical measure of brightness) which is roughly five times brighter than a well-lit office. Brighter 10,000lux lights take less time to use and allow you to sit further away. Simply using ‘daylight’ or ‘full spectrum’ lights at home will not work as they’re not bright enough.

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You can find out more about SAD and recommended light suppliers at


About the Author

Kathryn Danzey
I have a passion to bring to you what really works in the beauty industry, from a moisturiser to the latest advanced treatment for anti ageing. After almost 4 decades in the industry I'm packed with info to share but never tire of looking for new things and would love you to share your experiences with us too. We're here to help you find that treatment or product that will make a change for you. Can't do without My Collagen Shots and H3O Night Repair. Love a great serum and UV protection

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