The Monday of the last full week in January is now popularly known as “Blue Monday”.
It is considered to be the most depressing day of the year and, apparently, there is even a special formula used to establish this depressing phenomenon.
For some of us, it could be the Christmas credit card bill landing on the door mat, New Year’s resolutions starting to waver, or the withdrawal of highly calorific food taking an emotional toll. But for many, the problem stems from something now medically recognized as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Typical symptoms may include tiredness, difficulty waking up in the morning, general lack of energy, withdrawing socially, a pessimistic outlook on life, over-eating and a strong craving for carbohydrates, weight gain, a loss of libido and an all-round feeling of depression.
The shorter winter days seem to play a significant part in the problem.
It is thought that a lack of Vitamin D, which we normally get from sunlight, lowers our serotonin levels.
There is also a tendency to stay inside and avoid exercise during the cold winter months.
Physical activity is vital for our emotional well-being and can alleviate many symptoms of depression; a daily, brisk half-hour walk can make all the difference, even if it has to be in the evening, without day light.
What is important is the regular release of endorphins that will gradually begin to work their magic.
Additionally, Bright Light Therapy, otherwise known as light-box treatment, is reported as being very effective, with a high percentage of sufferers reporting total relief from their symptoms.
Light boxes are now widely available and often recommended as the first line of treatment for SAD.
Therapy intervention can also prove very helpful, one-to-one support helps to increase motivation and self-awareness – the key to keeping on top of the problem and preventing future episodes.