It is not uncommon to feel rather sombre and despondent once most of the leaves have fallen, and the daylight hours have shortened, heralding the inevitable shift to winter. People often complain of the 'winter blues' when they feel less energised to carry out their daily tasks and have difficulty in getting up in the mornings!
The seasonal changes bring about more extreme symptoms for some individuals, preventing sufferers from functioning normally without some sort of medical treatment. In these cases episodes of depression are experienced during the winter months only lifting in spring – a condition which is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD).
SAD affects half a million people in the UK each year and varies by latitude. Those living further from the equator are more susceptible to the disorder. This means that 10% of the population within Canada suffer from SAD while only 2% of those living in the state of Florida experience this condition.
The length of seasonal depression is also dependent on latitude where there is a positive correlation between the length of the winter and the length of an episode of depression. In London, for example, the average length of an episode is 5.7 months.
SAD symptoms vary greatly between individuals but they are generally centred on extreme lethargy, often with a constant desire to sleep, during both day and night. Sufferers tend to be less productive during the winter months with an increased appetite and consequent weight gain.
So what causes SAD? The research into the root of the condition has centred on the hormone melatonin which is produced in the pineal gland in the brain. It is thought melatonin induces sleep - its production and secretion into the bloodstream is closely related to light, with the hormone normally released at night as bright light suppresses it.
It is, therefore, understandable that its release is increased in those who live further from the equator with shorter daylight hours and less natural light.
Homeopathy has been proven to be very successful at helping sufferers of Seasonal Affective Disorder and some of the more prominent remedies are listed below. Please note these remedies are only a guideline and for a more individualised therapy please consult your nearest homeopath (www..a-r-h.org then click on ‘Find a homeopath’).
Aurum metallicum – feeling of hopeless- ness, future looks dark, low spirits and lifelessness, lack of hope, feels no pleasure from social or emotional contact, weakness of memory, feeling that something has been neglected, everything seems to take ages to do, doesn’t feel like talking but if they do they grumble.
Chocolate – overcome with sleepiness, their sleep is very deep and there is difficulty in waking, feels open and vulnerable, increase in appetite, strong desire to eat something sweet, feels like they want to hibernate, feels anxious about health matters, concentration becomes difficult, sense of panic concerning their ability to cope, easily feels rejected, averse to company and feels like they don’t belong, depressed and humourless.
Diamond – feeling of despair, disconnection and negative state, reluctant to talk to others, feels they have nothing to offer the world, sense of detachment, isolation and darkness, confused when thinking, has a sense of failure, craves the sun, has a desire for sunlight, ex- ceptional tiredness, strong desire for chocolate.
Frankincense – feelings of dread of the darkness, a sense of being lost, they feel that they are at the end of their tether, low, irritable, sad and grumpy, everything’s a drag.
Platina – morose, sad, feels weary of everything, likes to be alone, low-spirited, feels they have been forgotten by friends and family which manifests in being snappy and sharp-tongued, has contempt for the world, feels ravenously hungry but has an aversion to food due to the depression, constantly tired and often yawns, finds it difficult to wake in the morning, muscles ache and they feel physically and emotionally numb especially at night, Feels better when the sun shines.
If you suffer from SAD, or the winter blues, and would like further advice please contact the Seasonal Affective Disorder Association at www.sada.org.uk.
This article was first published by the ARH in the November 2011 issue of the free newsletter, Homeopathy Healthy Medicine.
The ARH regularly publish these newsletters to provide information about homeopathy to the public. This information is not usually available through our mainstream media. ARH makes the newsletters available to everyone as free downloads (go to www.a-r-h.org), and they can be used for information, marketing and publicity purposes.