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Strike a light on those dark days you feel so SAD.

Byline: Andy Hirst

YOU can't help but feel for people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder - or SAD for short.

As with other types of depression the symptoms are a low mood and a lack of interest in life and they tend to occur at the same time each year, usually in winter.

But summer seems to be the new winter with rain, floods and depressingly cold temperatures. So how have the SAD folk coped already and now the nights are getting shorter won't it be even tougher? According to the NHS, SAD is thought to be linked to reduced exposure to sunlight during the shorter days of the year.

But the sun's been a tad shy to say the least over the last three months. Spring was poor and autumn's settling in like autumn. Cold, windy and, surprise, surprise, rainy. No doubt it will be sunny and warm on the day you read this just to irritate me even more. It may even be that sunlight can affect some of the brain's chemicals and hormones. One theory is that light stimulates a part of the brain called the hypothalamus which controls mood, appetite and sleep. These things can affect how you feel.

Symptoms include low spirits and/or depression, weight gain, concentration problems, craving for carbohydrates, feeling tired, having less energy, needing more sleep, feeling listless and gloomy, anxiety, tension, inability to cope with stress, feelings of hopelessness and increased sensitivity to pain.

That must cover about the whole population then. But there is a way of shedding light on how to improve it quite literally. Light therapy is often used to treat SAD. It involves sitting in front of, or beneath, a light box which produces a very bright light. They come in a variety of designs, including desk lamps and wall-mounted fixtures. One company selling them for PS249 each states: "SAD sufferers find that a 25 minute daily session is enough to relieve them of their feelings of lethargy, depression and other related symptoms.'' So, if you're feeling down, get yourself under a light box in your Bermuda shorts while licking an ice-cream and flicking through some holiday brochures.

And if that doesn't do the trick we can all hope against hope that winter becomes the new summer in our topsy turvey weather, the sun comes out and we can get out to enjoy its winter rays.


| LIGHTEN UP: A handy gadget for when you're feeling SAD
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Oct 6, 2012
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