Monday, January 11, 2010

Seasonal Affective Disorder: It's Really SAD

So, what is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and what does it have to do with vegans? SAD is a form of depression that occurs in many people during the autumn and winter months from the lack of sunlight. A lighter version of the disorder is simply dubbed ‘The Winter Blues’.

The symptoms include tiredness, weight gain, difficulty getting out of bed and a craving for sweets. Is a vegan more or less likely to be affected by SAD? No. In fact, with a more nutritional diet and a more active lifestyle, vegans would tend to be affected less. However, if one is affected, the symptoms might lead one to believe that something is wrong with the diet itself.

Being lethargic, having a hard time getting out of bed in the morning, wanting to sleep early at night and having cravings of any kind would at times suggest that there is a lack of nutrition in the system and/or an imbalanced diet. This could lead someone to come to the conclusion that just maybe the missing key to the puzzle is meat.

Stick to your guns. This could be no further from the truth. SAD has really nothing to do with diet and all to do with the amount of sunlight and how it affects the chemicals in the brain. The best thing to do with the winter blues is keep up your great vegan diet and get outside as much as possible.

Artificial therapy is based on using light treatment. A light box can be had for $250 - $500 that can simulate much needed sunlight. Interestingly enough, studies have shown that light might not need to enter through the retina to be effective. In one study, the light was isolated to the back of the knee which is the dark side of the moon that is the human body, and positive results were attained.

St. Johns wort has been suggested as an herbal remedy but is still in the research stage. One of the problems with the herb is that it increases sensitivity to light so would counteract the benefits someone is receiving from a light box.

What does it all mean? There is a logical reason why you feel crappy in December and January. You are not alone when you have to forcibly drag yourself out of bed each and every morning during the winter months regardless of how much sleep you’ve had. And, my favourite... it is normal to want to skip that run or workout when it’s dark at five in the afternoon and the temperature is hovering around -10.

Just remember, February follows January and March follows February and spring and summer always, always, always come around each and every year.

Here are some other posts you may enjoy:

Importance of Zinc in the Diet and Other Updates
Coconut in Your Diet
The Many Benefits of Hot Peppers

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