Elite Health Blog/Natural Remedies/Natural Remedies for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Natural Remedies for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Dr. Daniel Lonquist, CCWP, CFMP, CDTS | Elite Virtual Health

As the days grow shorter and colder, many people experience a noticeable shift in their mood and energy levels. For those affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), the winter months can be particularly challenging. SAD is a subtype of depression that occurs seasonally, typically during the fall and winter when daylight hours diminish. While it can be challenging, there are several natural ways to overcome the symptoms of SAD and embrace the colder months with vitality and well-being.

Understanding Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal Affective Disorder, aptly known as SAD, is a mood disorder characterized by recurrent depressive episodes that occur at specific times of the year, primarily during the fall and winter. The exact cause of SAD is not entirely clear, but it is believed to be related to reduced exposure to natural light, which disrupts our circadian rhythms, melatonin and serotonin levels. This disruption can lead to symptoms such as low energy, irritability, oversleeping, and overeating.

Natural Ways to Overcome SAD

Light Therapy (Phototherapy)

Light therapy, or phototherapy, is one of the most effective and widely used treatments for SAD. This treatment involves exposing yourself to a special lightbox that mimics natural sunlight. The light emitted helps regulate your body's internal clock, boost serotonin production, and reduce melatonin levels, ultimately improving mood and energy. Light therapy sessions typically last around 20-30 minutes each morning.

Spend Time in Natural Light

Whenever possible, take advantage of the limited natural light available during the winter. Spend time outdoors during the day, even on cloudy or overcast days. You can go for a walk, sit by a window, or take your lunch break in a well-lit area to maximize your exposure to natural light.

Maintain a Balanced Diet

Eating a nutrient-rich, balanced diet is essential for managing SAD. Focus on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. These foods provide the body with essential nutrients and can help regulate mood by supporting serotonin production. Additionally, Omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts have been shown to have mood-enhancing properties.

Regular Exercise

Regular physical activity is a powerful natural remedy for SAD. Exercise promotes the release of endorphins, the body's natural mood boosters. Whether it's going for a jog, attending a fitness class, or practicing yoga, incorporating physical activity into your routine can help combat SAD symptoms.

Mindfulness and Meditation

Mindfulness and meditation practices can help reduce stress and improve your mental outlook. The winter season often brings increased stress levels, so dedicating a few minutes each day to mindfulness or deep breathing exercises can help you stay centered and resilient.

Socialize and Seek Support

Isolation can exacerbate the symptoms of SAD, so make an effort to connect with friends and family. Social support is invaluable in managing the emotional challenges of the winter months. Engage in social activities, reach out to loved ones, and consider joining support groups if needed.

Aromatherapy and Herbal Supplements

Some individuals find relief from SAD symptoms through aromatherapy using essential oils such as lavender, bergamot, or chamomile. Additionally, herbal supplements like St. John's Wort or saffron have shown potential in alleviating depressive symptoms. Always consult with a healthcare professional before using supplements.

Seasonal Affective Disorder doesn't have to cast a shadow over your winter months. By incorporating natural remedies such as light therapy, embracing natural light, maintaining a healthy diet, engaging in regular exercise, practicing mindfulness, seeking social support, and considering aromatherapy or herbal supplements, you can take control of your mental health and enjoy the colder season with a brighter outlook.

If your SAD symptoms persist or worsen, it's crucial to consult a healthcare professional for further evaluation and personalized treatment options. With the right strategies and support, you can harness the power of nature's light to overcome SAD and thrive during the winter months.

[1] Rosenthal, N. E. (1987). Winter Blues: Everything You Need to Know to Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder.
The Guilford Press. [2] Golden, R. N., Gaynes, B. N., Ekstrom, R. D., Hamer, R. M., Jacobsen, F. M., Suppes, T., ... & Nemeroff, C. B. (2005).
The efficacy of light therapy in the treatment of mood disorders: a review and meta-analysis of the evidence. American Journal of Psychiatry, 162(4), 656-662. [3] Grosso, G., Pajak, A., Marventano, S., Castellano, S., Galvano, F., Bucolo, C., & Drago, F. (2014).
Role of omega-3 fatty acids in the treatment of depressive disorders: a comprehensive meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. PloS One, 9(5), e96905. [4] Manzaneque, J. M., Vera, F. M., Maldonado, E. F., Carranque, G., GarcĂ­a, M. S., & Blanca, M. J. (2011).
Aromatherapy and massage for depression. Journal of Health Psychology, 16(5), 653-665. [5] Sarris, J., Schoendorfer, N., & Kavanagh, D. J. (2009).
Major depressive disorder and nutritional medicine: a review of monotherapies and adjuvant treatments. Nutrition Journal, 8(1), 38.

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Hi, I Am Dr. Daniel Lonquist

Natural Health Doctor and Functional Medicine provider

For over 30 years I've been passionately studying and researching ways to help people of all ages and health levels restore and optimize their health and wellness. With the current healthcare crisis, I'm committed to getting cutting-edge health information and protocols out to as many people as possible, so everyone can have the resources to unlock their optimal health

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