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Shine a light on SADness; vital IF YOU ARE STRUGGLING WITH THE DARK WINTER DAYS, TURNING ON A LIGHT BOX COULD BE THE ANSWER.

Byline: By Elaine Hunter

ARE you struggling at the thought of getting through the rest of the winter?

If you just want to crawl under the duvet and wake up when it's spring, you're not alone.

More and more people are battling with the cold dark days and struggle to find the get up and go to get through the day. We want to sit around indoors, watching telly and decrying the wet weather.

Thegood news is that feeling like this is not your fault. Last year was one of Scotland's secondwettest in almost a century. And wet days mean dark, dull conditions. We've simply not had enough light or sunshine this year.

Think about what the Europeans get. The main reason so many of us head abroad in the summer is find some sunshine.

But as the credit crunch closes in, many of us just don't have cash for that "all important" holiday.

Unless you suffer from clinical or post-natal depression, the lack of "oomph" you're feeling could be related to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), the depression that hits during the darkest times of the year.

Besides depression, symptoms also include low energy levels, overeating, a craving for carbohydrates, weight gain, an increased need for sleep, and a lack of interest in sex and in socialising.

Life coach Frank Shapiro said: "SAD has always been around.

However, recently, the act of feeling down when there is a lack of sunlight has been given a name, a label. This can have both a positive and a negative effect.

"Positive effect comes from the fact that sufferers do not feel they are alone in what they are feeling and can feel better because people then know they're not putting it on.

"The negative side can be that because it is a recognised disorder, they feel vindicated in what they have been telling people for years and become a 'victim' of it.

"But there are lots of ways of combating it; there are special sunlight boxes that can be used as asubstitute to the sun or people can get out of the house more even when it is dull because the suns rays still penetrate the Earth when it is cloudy.

"Alternatively, you can join a SAD group or forum to pick up tips and hints from other sufferers as well as pass on your own tips."

According to the SAD.org.uk - a voluntary UK National Voluntary Organisation dedicated to helping sufferers - modern living has altered nature's cues as our modern day no longer starts at the break of dawn and ends at sunset.

ASAD.org.uk spokesman said: "Diagnosis of SAD is increasing in the UK, not because of any change in light levels but because people are more aware of the condition and are not just passing it off as depression. Also, GPs are becoming more aware of SAD symptoms and are able to diagnose the condition earlier.

"The most effective treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder is a light box. However, we only recommend certain boxes on SAD.org.uk as there are many untested, uncertificated products that have flooded the market that are little more effective than a standard bulb.

"Light boxes may seem quite expensive but the ones that we recommend are medically proven products that will relieve SAD symptoms and can be used year after year."

The SAD organisation recommends light therapy as a way of increasing energy levels and alleviating the symptoms.

Log on to sad.org.uk for official recommendations.

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BRIGHT IDEA: Lightboxes are said to help with SAD syndrome
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 2, 2009
Words:598
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