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Seasonal Affective Disorder February 7, 2013

Upper West Side, Manhattan
Seasonal Affective Disorder, Manhattan, New York

Seasonal Affective Disorder

In my time spent in the fitness industry, I’ve come across this more frequently than one would expect. Especially in the concrete jungle known as Manhattan, where if you walk on the wrong side of the street you don’t get any sun throughout the course of a day. The easiest way to deal with this is simple enough: through exercise. There are a host of reasons why this generally has a positive effect on peoples’ demeanors and dispositions.

From a biochemical standpoint, when the body is exercising, it is releasing neurochemical transmitters that, surprise, make the body feel good. Serotonin, dopamine, epinephrin, are just a handful of these that the body releases and the brain reads during exercise. When there is a positive shift in the proportion of these neurochemical transmitters, it easily combats the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder, which, incidentally, is more times than not misdiagnosed. When most people think they’re in a bad mood, they blame it on the weather. All that being said, the power of the mind is so strong in that, if you think you have it, your body will feel the effects of it.

But back to the chemical transmitters for a moment - the only other way to get a higher proportion of these in your body, and probably the more common way, is through drugs. I’m sure you’ve seen the commercials. To give you a basic idea of what each one does: Dopamine influence motor activities that involve movement. It increases the ability to focus, and if you have low levels of it, you won’t be able to concentrate. Sometimes you will even become somewhat clumsy as a result of lack of motor activities.

Serotonin is more closely associated with disposition and mood. It tends to have a quiet comforting affect. If your serotonin level is low, generally you will be irritable, depressed, and even sometimes obsessive. Epinephrin has similar properties and qualities to the first two. All can be triggered by doing something as simple as exercising. Also, put simply enough, get outside and exercise! Now you’re increasing your vitamin D from the sun, and nothing like a little fresh air to do you right.

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