Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is often also referred to as winter blues or winter depression, and affects up to 20% of the population annually. It’s a type of depression which occurs seasonally, with symptoms including sleeping more, a lack of interest in activities and low mood. SAD symptoms usually start as the days get shorter, becoming more severe from December through until February.
What causes SAD?
It’s thought that SAD is linked to reduced levels of sunlight, and that light is responsible for stimulating the hypothalamus in the brain, which controls appetite, mood and sleep patterns. Reduced exposure to light in winter can affect the production of serotonin, the ‘happy’ hormone which regulates mood, as well as disrupting the body’s internal clock.
Boost your mood by gardening
Gardening is a positive way to fight the symptoms of SAD, as spending time in your garden will maximise the amount of sunlight you’re exposed to every day. Staying active and keeping your mind occupied will not only ensure you stay physically fit, it will also help to cure restlessness and insomnia, increasing your appetite and creating a daily routine that should help to regulate your body’s internal clock.
Gardening also releases endorphins which can help to fight depression, and it gives you a sense of looking forward to spring, when the bulbs you have planted will bloom! Tending an allotment is also a way to ensure you have daily social interaction, which can help to relieve SAD symptoms and boost positivity.