By Kimber Badertscher, Wellness Buyer
It’s the “Winter Blues” Season: SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and ways to combat it.
What is SAD? Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that usually occurs starting in fall and persists throughout the winter, improving in spring. It can impact your mood, energy level, and sleep patterns. It is believed that the reduced amount of daylight during the winter months may have a direct impact on your circadian rhythm, serotonin levels, and melatonin levels. Common symptoms of SAD include oversleeping, lower energy levels, and appetite changes. It is common to feel down occasionally, but if your daily activities get disrupted you should seek out help from your primary care physician.
If you find yourself feeling down in the winter months, there may be some natural ways to improve your well-being.
Light Therapy: Light therapy aims to mimic the natural light available during the summer months. This increase in light can help increase serotonin levels. There are many different light boxes available on the market. Many people with SAD noticed an overall improvement from light therapy.
Exercise: Exercising can have many health benefits, including improving symptoms of SAD. Exercising helps your body release endorphins which improves your overall sense of well-being. Starting with something as simple as a short walk outside can be an easy way to help add exercise into your daily routine.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D is synthesized by the skin when exposed to sunlight. Taking a Vitamin D supplement can help offset the lower Vitamin D levels some people with SAD experience. (Vitamin D is fat soluble so it can build up in your system over time.)
St. John’s Wort: St. John’s Wort is often used to treat the symptoms of depression. It is believed to disrupt monoamine oxidase (MAO) which is known to contribute to depression. It is slow acting compared to prescribed antidepressants but has fewer documented side effects because of this. (It can interact with some prescription medications.)
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. As always, if you are considering a new supplement, or if you are experiencing an ongoing health issue, you should consult your physician or pharmacist. If you are concerned about SAD, please consult your primary care physician.