Seasonal Affective Disorder and Treatments
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a depression that occurs during the changing of the seasons from summer to winter. Winter time brings cold weather and darker days that tend to increase feelings of depression and sadness in some individuals. This depression lifts when spring and summer set in and light comprises most of the days.
Who’s At Risk?
Seasonal depression can be experienced by anyone, but is much more common in women. It usually occurs in individuals 15 to 55 and the risk of experiencing SAD for the first time decreases as you age. It is also more common for people that live far from the equator and have less daylight hours, like in Alaska. People who have family members with SAD are also more susceptible to display this disorder, which may show that there is a genetic linkage.
How Do I Know If I AM Experiencing SAD?
The symptoms of SAD are very similar to standard depression; however, the timing of when these feelings occur is what should be noted. Feelings of grumpiness, moodiness, loss of interest, eating more carbs, gaining weight, sleeping but still feeling tired, and lack of concentration are some of the symptoms. Symptoms like these come and go at the same time, usually starting in October and ending in April. ¹
Treatments for SAD
There are many treatments for SAD, but most have to do with depression medications that can have serious side effects and complications when taking other prescription medications. That is why many people are trying to combat depression with natural remedies.
- Supplements – Instead of using pharmaceutical grade drugs, consider using natural supplements like St. John’s Wort. This supplement is natural and herbal and has shown many great improvements in those that struggle with depression. DC Labs has a St. John’s Wort product that contains valerian root and passion flower to give a sense of calming and comfort that supports depression symptoms. Vitamin D is another supplement that is recommended to those suffering from seasonal depression or who work night shifts that shift their circadian rhythms. Fundamental Earth has vitamin D supplements that are 1,000 IU and that will provide all that is needed to keep you vitamin D levels in the proper range. Vitamin D also helps with boosting the immune system and keeping the system balanced and healthy.
- Light Boxes – There are light boxes available that can emit natural light that can help decrease the effects of SAD. These boxes are very helpful and many patients receive positive outcomes using these boxes. The therapy must continue throughout the winter months or it will come back immediately. These boxes do have UV rays, so make sure you are protected. ²
- Exercise – One natural way to improve your mood is to exercise. SAD often comes with the side effect of weight gain and sleepiness. This can be counteracted and depression can be lifted if you exercise in any form. This will release natural endorphins that allow for a boost in happiness and a decrease in weight gain.
¹ Seasonal Affective Disorder – Mayo Clinic
² Seasonal affective disorder: bring on the light – Harvard Health – Harvard Medical School