When the nights start to draw in and the weather turns colder, it’s common for many of us to feel a little down in the dumps. But could your change in mood be something else? Seasonal Affective Disorder is a depressive mood disorder, that is directly linked to the change in seasons. Learn more about Seasonal Affective Disorder and whether you can ease some of its symptoms through the power of restorative yoga:
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Often abbreviated to SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder, presents itself much like other symptoms of depression:
- Feeling constantly low in mood throughout the day, most days
- Sleep issues (too much or too little)
- Lack of energy
- Anxiety and stress
- Changes in appetite
- Feelings of hopelessness and despair
- Difficulty concentrating
- Lack of enjoyment in activities that used to give you pleasure
The difference between depression and SAD, is that symptoms are triggered by the time of year. Although some people do experience Seasonal Affective Disorder in the summer, for most sufferers it is triggered by the winter months, typically starting around Autumn and improving towards the Spring.
The causes of Seasonal Affective Disorder
Whilst the exact cause of SAD is still unknown, there are theories as to why some people experience such a dramatic change in mood along with the changing months.
Darkness: Sunlight really is better for our overall mood. When light hits the back of the eye, messages are sent by the area of the brain which controls our sleep, moods, activity, sex drive and appetite. An absence of light slows down, and can even stop this process. It seems that some people need more sunlight than others for their brain to work in the way it should. Light therapy is often used as an effective treatment to tackle SAD.
Chemical changes: It’s thought that low serotonin (which makes us happy) and high melatonin levels (which makes us sleepy) plays a role. Research has found that these chemicals are impacted by seasonal change.
Body clock: We all have an internal body clock which sets itself around daylight. It’s believed that some sufferers of SAD may have a problem with their internal system which leads to symptoms.
How can yoga help with Seasonal Affective Disorder?
If you think that you or someone you know may suffer from SAD, always seek the guidance of a medical professional. If you’re looking for ways to alleviate some of the symptoms of winter depression, then yoga can be a useful tool thanks to the positive impact it has on the nervous system.
Our bodies are designed to react to very small changes in our environment. That is why a gentle restorative yoga practice can still have a big influence on improving the function of the nervous system. Studies show that exercise has a positive effect on dealing with winter blues. Alongside the benefits of yoga to help relax the mind it also improves circulation and in the process oxygen flow to the nervous system, which reduces the stress response.
Attending a soothing yin class, or even practicing 10 minutes of restorative yoga at home before bed can offer you some self-help when dealing with SAD symptoms. If you would like more information on Seasonal Affective Disorder or support, you can discover more here.