How Gardening can help you combat SAD

Posted on February 01, 2013 by Lavender World

SAD or seasonal affective disorder affects almost twenty per cent of the population from autumn until late spring. It is a form of depression that is due to the shortened daylight hours during the darker seasons. It is not just native to the UK; anyone anywhere in the world can suffer from it although obviously, those living close to the equator are less at risk.

Scientists believe it’s the lack of natural light that is the problem while others think it’s the lack of vitamin D, a vitamin we receive from sunlight. Whatever the cause there is no denying that gardening has been
proven to alleviate every symptom.


Do I Have SAD?

More and more people every year are being diagnosed with SAD as the awareness of the depression spreads; before this people would simply put down their low moods to the “winter blues” or the “post-Christmas slump”. Symptoms aren’t simply restricted to low moods however, so it can take up to three years before a real diagnosis is made.


The Symptoms of SAD

These symptoms are a guide, everyone is different after all but people usually complain of:

  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Change in eating habits
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety and the need to be alone

How can Gardening cure SAD?

It is a fact that SAD usually peters out in spring. It can quite easily disappear in a day with sufferers waking up feeling positive, energised and even a little bit hyperactive! Yet gardening can make sure the symptoms disappear long before March and here’s how:

  • Gardening throughout the winter enables sufferers to maximise the amount of sunlight they receive
  • It releases endorphins that then fight the depressive symptoms associated with spam
  • It can cure restlessness and insomnia.
  • It helps the sufferer to look forward as they tend to plants and imagine them bursting back to life in the spring
  • Gardeners are known to be the most positive type of people as they understand how to live in the moment and appreciate each season for the benefits it brings to the plants.
  • It can increase appetites
  • If an allotment is owned it can encourage social interaction
  • It can keep the mind occupied

There’s always something to do in the garden even in the depths of winter as tools need to be cared for, winter vegetables should be sown and all manner of items can be constructed ready for the spring. Being active outdoors is known to cure a range of depressive disorders; however gardening encompasses this and more as it gives the mind something to focus on and allows SAD sufferers to look forward to the spring when their symptoms will
magically disappear.

SAD symptoms usually begin in adulthood from the age of eighteen up to the age of thirty; however it can affect anyone at any time of life. If you think these symptoms ring a bell, either step outside and breathe a lung full of the fresh air, or contact your doctor for an informal chat.

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