For those who find winter a depressing time, Tompion Platt, Head of Policy and Research at Living Streets advises Asian Lite readers how to overcome this
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern.SAD is sometimes known as “winter depression” because the symptoms are more apparent and tend to be more severe during the winter.
The symptoms often begin in the autumn as the days start getting shorter. They’re typically most severe during December, January and February.
SAD often improves and disappears in the spring and summer, although it may return each autumn and winter in a repetitive pattern.
The exact cause of SAD isn’t fully understood, but it’s often linked to reduced exposure to sunlight during the shorter autumn and winter days.
The main theory is that a lack of sunlight might stop a part of the brain called the hypothalamus working properly.
It’s also possible that some people are more vulnerable to SAD as a result of their genes, as some cases appear to run in families.
Platt advises the best idea would be to get walking. Walking has many benefits for our health but less frequently discussed is how it helps us remain positive and happy. In fact, walking has been shown to reduce the risk of developing depression by 20 per cent.
Walking for just part of the journey to work can significantly boost our happiness levels, which is especially important during the winter months when many of us get up, travel in the dark and can find it hard to incorporate activity into the day. It stimulates endorphins, which help to improve sleep quality and reduce feelings of stress.
Walking is free, accessible and easy to build into everyday life. Research suggests that active people are 30 per cent less likely to feel distressed and 30 per cent more likely to experience enhanced levels of wellbeing.