Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) & Overeating
Since I got back from vacation I’ve been depressed and have felt completely incapable of dealing with my weight loss goals … as a matter of fact before I went on vacation I was depressed.
Winter doesn’t work for me. I love Autumn and Spring, but I HATE winter. It isn’t just the cold that I hate, but the lack of light that I absolutely detest. In truth even though I love Autumn, from the moment the first chill in the air signals its arrival, I start to feel a creeping melancholy.
According to the Seasonal Affective Disorder Association:
SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is a type of winter depression that affects an estimated half a million people every Winter between September and April, in particular during December, January and February.
It is caused by a biochemical imbalance in the hypothalamus due to the shortening of daylight hours and the lack of sunlight in winter.
For many people SAD is a seriously disabling illness, preventing them from functioning normally without continuous medical treatment. For others, it is a mild but debilitating condition causing discomfort but not severe suffering. We call this sub-syndromal SAD or ‘winter blues.’
Sleep problems: Usually desire to oversleep and difficulty staying awake
but, in some cases, disturbed sleep and early morning
Lethargy: Feeling of fatigue and inability to carry out normal routine Overeating: Craving for carbohydrates and sweet foods, usually
resulting in weight gain
Depression: Feelings of misery, guilt and loss of self-esteem,
sometimes hopelessness and despair, sometimes
apathy and loss of feelings
Social problems: Irritability and desire to avoid social contact Anxiety: Tension and inability to tolerate stress Loss of libido Decreased interest in sex and physical contact Mood changes In some sufferers, extremes of mood and short periods
of hypomania (overactivity) in spring and autumn.
I definitely have a number of these symptoms. I have been depressed, lethargic, suffering from insomnia, anxious, unsociable and definitely overeating sweets.
Light therapy has been shown to be effective in up to 85 per cent of diagnosed cases. That is, exposure, for up to four hours per day (average 1-2 hours) to very bright light, at least ten times the intensity of ordinary domestic lighting.
Antidepressant Drugs like Prozac are effective in alleviating the depressive symptoms and combing well with light therapy.
Psychotherapy, counselling or any complementary therapy which helps the sufferer to relax, accept their illness and cope with its limitations are extremely useful.
Vigorous exercise, especially outdoor activities.
My partner bought me a light therapy box for my birthday a few weeks ago and I have been using it religiously. It has completely alleviated my symptoms and I have been able to turn my attention once again to addressing my food/weight issues. As mentioned in my last post, I have returned to Greysheeter Anonymous program and so far it has been as wonderful as it was the first time around. I feel well on my way to successfully addressing my obesity. In GSA we weigh in once a month so I will now be providing monthly updates of my progress.