Seasonal Affective Disorder is estimated by the NHS to affect one in fifteen people living in the UK. (Figures taken from Mental Health Foundation.)
While the number that actually get a diagnosis is clearly a lot lower than this, that means that lack of light in the winter months means that over 8% of us are functioning at below our optimum in many areas of our lives during December, January and February. Because there have been such high cloud levels over the past two months the figures for this winter may well be even worse. That means around ten thousand people just in Cambridge suffer from S.A.D!
Add to the one in fifteen the much greater numbers who suffer from a lower mood in winter but don’t reach the threshold for diagnosis that is a lot of people who do not feel good during the winter months!
What can we do about it?
My top recommendation is to get outside in the daylight for at least half an hour between eleven and one. It is research suggests only between these hours that there is strong enough sunlight to make a difference at this time of year. If this is not possible it may well be worth getting one of the special lights. I haven’t used one myself but sad.org.uk have done reviews of different lights available. There is also a lot of research that suggests getting out and about in nature is in itself helpful for depression so doing this outside of the hours around mid day might still help even if not from the light!
Essential oils, in particular the citrus oils such as petitgrain, Bergamot, Sweet Orange and Lemon along with Frankincense are all good to use in a burner or diffuser. You can also apply them to the skin if diluted in a carrier oil or hand-cream. etc. One of the ones I currently make contains petitgrain and the other Frankincense! Getting an aromatherapy massage is also a really good way to get the benefits of these oils, particularly if you are in a stressful job or stuck behind a computer and unable to get out into the light.
A third way of tackling S.A.D. is vitamin D supplements. In particular it seems vit D3 is to be preferred over D2. Research suggests 25% of British adults have low vitamin D status. There are links between Depression in general and low vitamin D levels, not just seasonal affective disorder.
Do contact me if you think an aromatherapy treatment might help you with depression or other problems or if you wish to buy some hand cream/ skin balm that I make using organic essential oils and olive oil and beeswax from my own bees kept on the allotments in Trumpington.