Seasonal Affective Disorder


What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

Seasonal Affective Disorder, also referred to as SAD, is a condition that affects over half a million people in the UK. This condition impacts upon the mental well-being of people during the winter months particularly during January and February when the days begin to shorten. If you tend to feel really down during winter or find it hard to get going during the winter months, you may think that this is a natural reaction to the cold and dark days, but you may actually be suffering from SAD.

Sufferers of SAD often experience low mood, varied degree of depression, loss of energy, sleep problems, irritability, increased appetite, strong cravings for carbohydrates and sweet foods as well as headaches and muscle pain. The defining characteristics of SAD are that the symptoms return annually and go away during other seasons. Read More…

A Probiotic Supplement To Relieve Anxiety

Visual aid to show gut probiotics

Did you know that probiotics can help relieve anxiety and enhance your mood? Many people use probiotic supplements and drinks to help aid digestion, however the latest research shows that probiotics may help alleviate stress, anxiety and mild depression.

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria which reside in our intestines and are responsible for a variety of processes and functions. Without these beneficial bacteria, our bodies would not be able to carry out numerous functions and we would become ill. The consequences of an imbalance of these beneficial bacteria can be tremendous and may be linked to numerous chronic diseases such as inflammatory bowel disorders, metabolic syndrome, allergies, food sensitivities and even cardiovascular disease. Read More…

Post-Holiday Blues


The weeks after a holiday can sometimes seem bleak with many people suffering from post-holiday blues. There may be several months before the next holiday is due with very few breaks to look forward to. If the holiday was amazing then this may simply serve to highlight the contrast of day-to-day life at home. If the holiday was a disappointment then this may simply reinforce the sense of being stuck on a stressful treadmill. And just in case you did not know, post-holiday periods are the busiest for divorce lawyers second only to post-Christmas.

Positive ways to cope with post-holiday blues

Many people use their holidays to reflect on their quality of life, the direction that they have taken, the direction they need to take, and perhaps even consider their overall health and happiness. Some of the biggest concerns affecting many people after a holiday include stress, anxiety, mild depression and low energy levels. Read More…



Suicide. It scares people – both those who are not suicidal, and those who are. It’s almost impossible to talk about unless you are with somebody who understands, because they have been there themselves. When I am suicidal (or have suicidal ideation, as it is more benignly phrased by psychiatrists although it all comes down to the same thing; you want to die) I call a friend, who I met in the loony bin, ten years ago. We have been close ever since, not bound through mental illness, but simply because we love each other. Anyway, I call him, sobbing that I want to die. Most people panic, which simply makes me feel worse but his words are always,” What method are we choosing today, darling? Which makes me laugh. As black as it sounds, we discuss our various options. He is quite keen on cars, smashing into a wall, or driving off a cliff. I am vaguer in my options. All I know is that I want to die or, rather, that I don’t want to be here any longer. There is a difference as anybody who has ever looked into the black abyss of severe depression will understand. We do not want to be dead. We simply want to go to sleep for a very long time and, one day, wake up and feel the sunshine on our backs, and breathe the cool, still air and hold life in our hands.

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BiPolar and Me


Diagnosing somebody under the blanket term of depression and handing them a pill is like shooting in the dark and hoping the bullet will find its target. Which is why, every time I read about depression in the media or hear that somebody has just been diagnosed by their GP as having depression, I think, well, what form of depression? Oh, you know; depression. Yes, but what … oh, never mind.

But, really, it does matter. Depression is not a singular illness but a complex set of disorders. Is it mild, moderate or severe? Is it reactive or chronic? Reactive depression – or a reaction to a difficult life event might be regarded as a healthy response. It is only when that depression becomes embedded and morphs into clinical depression that it becomes part of pathology. Is it Bipolar I? Bipolar II? Could it be defined as dysthymia, rapid mood cycling or cyclothymia?

That one word, depression, covers a world of pain and misunderstanding – not simply amongst the general public but among sufferers themselves. More worryingly, it leads to misdiagnosis and, sometimes, death.

I don’t mean to sound alarmist but in my own experience (and it is only my experience because depression is always subjective; no two cases are the same) it took me ten years, fourteen different medications and two suicide attempts to get the right diagnosis, which is Bipolar II – or what my psychiatrist refers to as rapid mood cycling because he is cautious about stamping labels on people’s foreheads. Read More…

Need A Natural Lift?


I love writing this page, and never more than when I get emails like this one from 60-something reader Jenny: ‘I wrote to you in April 2012 about my problem waking in the night with severe “what’s the point of living?” depression despite a good career, wonderful family and social life. I was advised [by pharmacist Shabir Daya] to take Magnolia Rhodiola Complex. It had a marvellous effect: it must be 15 years since I felt this good.’ Jenny has recommended it to others ‘who had little enthusiasm for daily life. They are all now content and calm with lots of energy.’

Magnolia extract helps relax muscles and nerves as well as reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol, according to Shabir Daya. Trials show that rhodiola helps calm the mind, lift mood and restore sleep cycles without having sedative properties by increasing levels of the hormone serotonin and amino acid derivative theanine. Read More…