Get to the sunny side of the street
- Credit: Nick Butcher
As the nights draw in and those precious hours of sunlight begin to diminish, it can leave us all feeling a little fed up.
But for some people, it is not just a case of having a mild bout of the winter blues; it can mark the start of chronic physical and emotional health issues.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects an estimated 7pc of the UK population every winter and it is thought that a further 17pc of people also suffer from milder symptons caused by the condition, which is caused by a biochemical imbalance in part of the brain due to shortening daylight hours and a lack of sunshine.
Sandra Edwards, from Norwich Counselling and Hypnotherapy, has been helping people suffering from SAD for many years. “This time of year when the days seem to get dark and gloomy, some people may notice their mood and outlook become dark and gloomy too. They may feel lethargic, generally low, notice a change in their sleep and eating patterns and become irritable.
“The symptoms of SAD are similar to other types of depression, so unless the pattern is recognised it potentially could go undiagnosed for many years.”
She says that if people notice the symptoms developing at the same time every year they should visit their GP for a diagnosis and learn more about their options.
“As a counsellor and hypnotherapist I have been helping people for many years who have been diagnosed with different forms of depression and, while it can be good to talk, I have found hypnotherapy to be most effective in lifting people’s moods and improving their outlook.
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“For people with SAD there are, of course, practical ways people can help themselves. Try walking ‘on the sunny side of the street’ – find a sunny spot on a bright day and stand in it – and also there are special light lamps available for indoor use,” she says.
“I always encourage people to help themselves, however, there are times when people cannot lift themselves out of their mood. Hypnosis is a very gentle therapy and its effects can often be experienced quickly.”
The Seasonal Affective Disorder Association (SADA) is a national voluntary organisation and charity which gives advice and support to health professionals and those affected by the disorder, as well as supporting and promoting research into the condition. Symptoms include depression, sleep problems, lethargy, over-eating, social problems, loss of concentration, anxiety, mood swings and a loss of libido.
Light therapy from special light boxes have been shown to be effective in up to 85pc of diagnosed cases according to SADA, but medication and alternative therapies are also used to ease symptoms.
For Sandra’s blog about SAD, see www. norwichcounsellingandhypnotherapy.com; Norwich Counselling and
Hypnotherapy, St Francis House, Queens Road, Norwich, NR1 3PN.
Seasonal Affective Disorder Association, www.sada.org.uk