Leah Panapa: Don't get SAD this winter

Opinion 19/07/2019

By Leah Panapa, Magic Talk Nights host.

For many kiwis a mid winter break to somewhere sunny is the best way to lift the spirits and get a bit of warmth back into the bones, but if you’re like me, stuck here with the wind, cold, rain and general dreariness, it can be easy to find yourself feeling flat and a little bit down.

You are not alone and may be suffering from SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder.

It occurs in climates where there is less sunlight at certain times of the year – aka – Winter. It can might make you feel like withdrawing socially and want to stay inside.

I tend to be a bit like that, I do enjoy a winters day on the couch under the blanket staying cosy but I must admit that our two dogs are a bit of a god send for the very reason that they don’t care if it is cold or wet, they need to get out and walk. So I do, everyday, and I believe it lifts my spirits.

Even the tiniest bit of sunshine I get helps.

You don’t of course need a dog to get out and walk around a park or take a stroll around the neighbourhood. Other ways to get the bounce back into your step includes light therapy, phototherapy, or taking vitamin D as I do in winter.

A 2014 study published in the journal Medical Hypotheses suggested that low vitamin D could contribute to the development of SAD. The study authors stated Vit D can play a role in the production of serotonin and dopamine, the “happy chemicals” in the brain that are often low when someone is feeling sad. However, another study published the same year by Danish researchers found the supplement didn’t directly improve SAD symptoms.

Here’s the good news SAD symptoms fade as our daylight hours increase.

Head forecaster Philip Duncan from WeatherWatch.co.nz says each week in September we gain roughly an extra 20 minutes of sunlight, which means well over one hour of daylight is gained in just one month, then daylight savings begins late September and we instantly gain another hour.

And one last note: the days are now getting longer and in just over two weeks most people should start to notice it.

Who needs a holiday in Fiji?! Ha!

Leah Panapa is Magic Talk Nights host.