Frozen Cure: Icy Swims Combat Seasonal Affective Disorder


In my daily avocation, I serve as an arbiter of nature’s moods, delivering weather forecasts to you all. Often, however, I find these seasonal shifts challenging to grapple with; the whims of plummeting temperatures and fecund summer heatwaves.

As daylight dwindles and wintry chills creep upon us, melancholy sneaks in, sapping my energy, leaving me languishing, alongside countless others. This condition, known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), hints at the likelihood of its onslaught.

SAD, colloquially labeled as “winter depression,” dwells in approximately two million Britons, its intensity amplified during colder months. It is characterized by symptoms mirroring depression: a deflated spirit, drained energy, and pronounced cravings, particularly for chocolate or foods brimming in carbohydrates.

A medical professional may prescribe antidepressants for severe cases. Elaine Bowen, a 71-year-old resident of Clydach Vale in the Rhondda, channels her lifelong struggle with SAD through icy water swimming, after three decades on medication.

Bowen depicts her annual dread as a period marked by overeating, incessant crying, and a preference for isolation, which led her to retreat under her duvet. However, she notes that the cold water swimming has led her to a significant improvement in her mental health, helping her ditch her medication and, instead, combat her malaise with invigorating cold swims.

Among the frequent participants, Lehighton Lee of Porth, when mired in depression and negativity brought about by SAD, found that the experience was transformative. He remarked on the considerable shift in his mood and outlook on life after an icy swim, likening it to discovering a newfound lust for life.

A variety of treatments for SAD exist, primarily involving talking therapies and the use of lightboxes. As per Dr. Maria Atkins from The Royal College of Psychiatrists, the specific causes of winter depression aren’t entirely clear yet. Nevertheless, they’re believed to be linked to brain chemicals.

She suggests individuals suffering from persistent low mood and other SAD symptoms for over two weeks consult a medical professional. Changes to their lifestyle, physical activity, and diet can also greatly aid SAD sufferers.

In the face of the inevitability of disheartening, dark winter days, numerous resources for support exist. Remember, you don’t have to weather the storm of SAD alone. There are a multitude of methods to usher in the warmth and light, even in the heart of winter’s chill.


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