’Tis the Season to Be SAD

Feeling down in the dumps lately? It could just be an ordinary case of the blues and you’ll feel better in the morning. But if it hits you especially hard on dark, dreary winter days, it could be seasonal affective disorder (SAD). No one is quite sure why some folks are troubled by SAD while others are not, but we do know what triggers it: The absence of light during winter’s gray days and long nights causes the pineal gland to turn the hormone serotonin into melatonin. The lack of serotonin makes the chilly months miserable — and if you don’t face the problem square on, the symptoms can lead to major trouble down the road.

For many folks, SAD is far more serious than a simple case of cold-weather blahs. Like any other type of depression, it can affect your whole life and well-being. Symptoms vary greatly in their intensity from one person to another, but these are the most common signs that SAD has struck:

  • Craving for sweets and starches
  • Depression
  • Intense desire to hibernate
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Permanent jet-lagged feeling

Try these effective and easy ways to lift your SAD woes:

Flee your cave. Force yourself to get outdoors for part of every day, regardless of the weather. Exposure to the sun’s rays, even on dim, overcast days, ups your levels of vitamin D, which in turn increases your serotonin supply. Even during the darkest downpour, there is 30 times more light outdoors than in.

Tipple some tea. Whenever you feel a craving for carbohydrates, sip a cup of chamomile tea. It’ll divert your attention from food and give you a much-needed energy boost at the same time.

Tipple some more tea. To curb your overall appetite — and therefore, avoid packing on pounds — buy a bottle of fennel essential oil at a health food store or on the Internet. Then before each meal, add two drops of the oil to a cup of warm water, and drink up.