According to data from the National Health Service (NHS), Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects one in 15 Britons. SAD is categorised as a form of depression that’s strongly related to changes in seasons. Known symptoms include feeling depressed, hopeless or worthless, lack of energy, loss of interest in activities, sleeping problems, fatigue and feeling sluggish, changes in appetite, difficulty concentrating and, in severe cases, suicidal thoughts.
The onset of these symptoms usually begin around the start of autumn and last for the duration of the winter months. In fact, some of these symptoms have now also been recognised in dogs, with experts believing that less time spent outside during the winter months means dogs can suffer the same symptoms as humans who have the condition.
In a recent poll, six in 10 UK dog owners said they also see a difference in their pets’ behaviour as the nights draw in — with their canines appearing to be happier during the summer.
SAD is strongly linked to a lack of exposure to direct sunlight during the cold and grey winter months as well as depleted vitamin D levels — an essential mood-boosting vitamin created by your body when your skin comes in contact with direct sunlight. Vitamin D is known to play an essential role in the synthesis of the feel-good hormone serotonin.
Make mine a double with a dash of light
Treatments for SAD include light therapy (phototherapy), vitamin D supplementation and in serious cases psychotherapy and even prescription medication. But before you fork out an arm and a leg for a therapist, or worse get a prescription for antidepressants, here’s a trendy new alternative way to face those winter blues: Going to a ‘Vitamin D Bar’.
When Frida Harju, in-house nutritionist for Lifesum — a personalised health and lifestyle guide — viewed data from smartphone app users in London, she noticed that most of them record low levels of vitamin D, particularly in January.
This triggered the idea of creating a ‘Vitamin D Bar’ where Londoners can go for a much-needed vitamin D boost. Together with London Fit Food & Juice Bar Crussh, and the SAD Lightbox Company, Lifesum launched the first ever UK Vitamin D Bar offering SAD light boxes, and a vitamin D-rich smoothie, called the ‘Blues Beater’.
The specially designed smoothie aims to help sufferers combat SAD symptoms. By boosting their vitamin D intake while enjoying the benefits of the daylight therapy lamps, sufferers will also regulate their circadian rhythms, which regulate the sleep-wake cycle. When your circadian rhythms are out of whack you are bound to have sleeping problems, which in turn won’t help when you are feeling depressed.
The ‘Blues Beater’ contains the following ingredients: vitamin D, blueberries, kefir, spinach and bananas. So not only is it rich in the sunshine vitamin, but it is also high in antioxidants, vitamin C, probiotics, magnesium, protein and fibre all of which speed up the body’s metabolism and boost immunity.
The ‘Blues Buster’ will be available nationwide at Crussh stores on the high street until the end of March.
Of course, there’s nothing to stop you from making your own vitamin D smoothie at home… but that might just keep you indoors, preventing you from getting a bit of exercise, albeit walking to the high street to pick up your ‘Blues Buster’ at your local Crussh.
And if you have a dog, why not help Fido get over the winter blues by taking him for walks in daylight and ensuring that he gets a balanced and nutritious diet. According to canine behaviourist Nick Jones: “Poor diet can be directly linked to lethargy and depression within canines, so it’s more important than ever during winter months to feed your dog a healthy natural diet – comfort eating in winter is as bad for pets as it is for humans.”
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Disclaimer: Bear in mind the material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only. We are not addressing anyone’s personal situation. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.
New pop-up stocks lightboxes and Vitamin D drinks for SAD sufferers, published 23.01.17, standard.co.uk
You Feeling SAD? We’ve Got Just the Thing! Published online, blog.lifesum.com/
Ruff time for family pets: Dogs suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, published online 24.01.17, express.co.uk