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WINTER DEPRESSION

Hands up who likes Winter?

The cold, short, dim daylight? The much longer, colder darkness that descends mid-afternoon?

Most of us are not too keen. Winter’s lack of light itself has become a known culprit of the onset of low moods: Seasonal Affected Disorder (“SAD”) is a condition that’s widely acknowledged and, happily, usually treated quite successfully with various treatments, including extra Vitamin D supplements.

People who suffer from SAD are not necessarily suffering from full-blown depression, though. The low mood that they experience tends to lift with the change of season from Winter to Spring.

Full-blown depression is quite different. It’s a persistent, invasive low mood that can lead to thoughts of self-harm and, at its worst, suicide. It’s the biggest killer of men under the age of fifty.

We need to talk about this, and given that this is the middle of Winter, there’s no time like the present.
If you’ve been struggling with a low mood for months already, you need to find somebody to open up to, start talking to.

That’s the most important step you can take: take it now.

Choose a trusted friend, a colleague or find a therapist and make a time to meet up. People like to be trusted and treated as a confidant. As long as you feel that you can trust them to keep your words private, you can be assured that your opening up to them will be the first step to wellness.
While you’re waiting to see them, you can learn THREE BIG LESSONS from the advice that’s often given to SAD sufferers:

1) EAT WELL
A high sugar and carbohydrate diet causes your blood-sugar to ‘spike’, which may make you feel a bit better for the next hour or two but then you’ll feel low again. Very low – possibly physically weak and shaky, too.
Take control and make sure that you give your body the best fuel it deserves – natural fibre and sugars that are found in nuts, fruit and veggies … it might sound boring, but rather that than the low you’ll hit if you go for the fried, fatty, sugary nonsense you find everywhere in the lead up to Christmas.

2) EXERCISE MODERATELY
We men tend to take out our frustrations and anxiety on over-working, over-exercising, over-risking ourselves in dangerous activities like driving too fast, over-drinking, gambling and so on.
Do you want to party hard more often to let off steam? Take note – this is a warning sign that you might be suffering from depression. It’s a proper illness that needs treatment, not just a state of mind.

3) SLEEP
The lack of sleep is the biggest cause of depression in men. Persistent insomnia affects your brain neurologically. If you’ve been suffering from a lack of sleep for two weeks or more, speak to your GP.

Aside from your talking about how you feel to someone you trust, those are the three biggest factors for you to focus on this winter if you’ve been struggling with a low mood.

There are other things that you can do – get out and about socially, learn a basic meditation technique, take a short holiday … but those all take more organising and effort at a time when you frankly don’t feel like it.

Diet, moderate exercise and sleep are the arrows to your quiver while we all shiver this winter. You can make a start on them today – right away – before you get to talk out your feelings with your confidant.

 

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