Five ways to beat SAD with science: From Botox to scent therapy

Posted by admin on Oct 17, 2011 in beauty, lists, technology

I get very depressed each time winter rolls around, and not just because I have to put my shorts away for six months. I suffer from something called Seasonal Affective Disorder (also known as SAD) which means I have a strong reaction to the lack of light and heat in the day. Yes, I know most people prefer summer to winter, but my symptoms are significant enough for me to actually have this condition. I become incredibly lethargic, have problems sleeping and getting out of bed, and lack energy during the day and I’m snappy, irritable and tearful. People may all get these to varying degrees, but I get this so severely I have to take counter measures, so I don’t spend four months hibernating till I see sun again. The theory behind people getting SAD is that the lack of light causes an increase in Melatonin (the sleep hormone) and a reduction in Serotonin (the happy hormone*). When humans were less advanced and farmed the land, we’d all be getting enough light-even in Winter- but modern day means we’re cooped in offices or on the tube and miss out on vital sun time.

Here are five ways to help keep your SAD under control– they help, not heal, as there is no one stop cure, it’s more of an improved sense of well being due to managing lifestyle factors.

Botox for a better mood

It may sound odd, but having Botox just before winter could actively improve your SAD symptoms. Why is this the case? Some researchers believe that paralyzing the muscles between the eyebrows has a significant reduction on people diagnosed with depression.

Dr Eric Finzi started studying the effects of Botox injections on depressive disorder in 2006.  He found that after 2 months all subjects had markedly improved in temperament. Her argues this wasn’t due to increased body image, it was because “if you inhibit the ability of this muscle to contract, you’re actually going to feel less sadness and anger. You’re actually going to have more difficulty feeling the emotion because feelings are not just something that’s happening in the brain.”

Richard Alleyne, science writer for the Telegraph says that, ‘The anti-wrinkle drug can make people feel better because it stops them frowning when they are unhappy which feeds back to the brain reducing the intensity of the feeling.’

Another study- this one by the US Association for Psychological Science found tested a group of 40 people with Botox. They were asked to read out a series of statements ranging in tone from positive to negative, before and after treatment. They discovered a small time delay on the negative statements occurring after treatment, which researcher David Havas finds significant because it suggests the brain takes longer to process the emotion behind the statements. Read more…

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