Want to get away? At this time of year most people get the post-Christmas blues, but for some winter depression is a more serious matter.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is an 'affective' or 'mood' disorder with the majority of sufferers experiencing normal mental health throughout most of the year. However with the onset of winter comes a range of depressive symptoms including sleeping problems, lethargy, depression and anxiety.
If you desperately feel the need for a winter sun holiday, you have scientific backing.
It is thought that SAD is caused by a biochemical imbalance due to a lack of sunlight and shorter days in winter. For some this is an unpleasant but mild condition known as subsyndromal SAD. For others it is a serious illness for which continuous medical treatment is required in order to function normally.
The most effective treatment is light therapy which, according to the Seasonal Affective Disorder Association, has been shown to successfully treat up to 85 per cent of diagnosed cases. A bright summer's day provides the most powerful light.
Cheapflights.co.uk, the UKs leading flight comparison site, reports that bookings for sun worshipping holidays have been unexpectedly high this winter. Flight searches to consistently sunny spots like Egypt are up by 20% compared to 2006 and searches to Australia have increased by 37% compared to this time last year.
Fleeces are switched for flip-flops in favour of cheaper flights to destinations that have sun this time of year, comments Francesca Ecsery, General Manager, Cheapflights.co.uk.The UK never really had a summer with all the rain - people should consider getting away before SAD sets in. Top winter sun destinations include the Caribbean, Florida, Mauritius, South Africa, Dubai, Cyprus and the Canary Islands. For those who cannot take a winter break, a therapy lamp is the next best thing to combat SAD. 247electrical.co.uk says sales of its specialist SAD Therapy Lamps have shot up 300% in the last two months compared to the same period last year. SAD is estimated to affect up to one in 20 people, with women and younger people more likely to suffer.
Written by: Maxine Clarke
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