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Digital Subscriptions > Healthy Magazine > February 2019 > BEAT the BLUES

BEAT the BLUES

The cold, dark days of winter seem never-ending and you’re struggling. But you can feel better… our expert guide explains how

LANCE WORKMAN IS THE Visiting Professor of Psychology at the University of South Wales, and is an evolutionary psychologist with a special interest in Seasonal Affective Disorder.

By late January, the festivities are a distant memory, spring still feels a long way off and you’re tired, tearful and grumpy. Research suggests around three per cent of people in the UK are diagnosed with full-blown seasonal affective disorder (SAD). But there’s also a milder form, known clinically as sub-syndromal SAD, or ‘winter blues’, which affects 21 per cent of the population. In fact, many experts consider most of us living far from the equator demonstrate some level of mood variability with the seasons.

THE ROOT CAUSE

Our brains are still wired for the bright sunlight of equatorial Africa, where our ancestors came from. Now, not only are we in a colder, darker climate, we’re spending around 93 per cent of our time inside. There’s evidence daylight affects levels of mood-regulating neurotransmitter serotonin, triggering too much in the summer and too little in the winter. We think those with SAD react more strongly to those changes in serotonin. Melatonin, the hormone that makes us feel sleepy when it’s dark, is also involved as the shorter days mean we produce more of this in winter.

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About Healthy Magazine

Kickstart your healthy new year with our fitness issue! Inside, you’ll find our 20-page fitness special, with essential moves to master whether you’re 22 or 62, tips on how to outsmart your inner quitter, and the ultimate guide to finding your athletic identity. We explore fitness decade-by-decade, deliver the realistic guide to a better sex life, and cover star Deliciously Ella shares some honest advice about plant-based diets. Plus, our food section gets a special Veganuary makeover (think colourful 15-minute meals and box clever bento), and we reveal the natural beauty resolutions you’ll actually stick to. Find all this and more in the brand new issue of Healthy!