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Feeling Miserable? It might be Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

As the weather changes from fall to winter and the sun goes down earlier, you notice a consistent drop in your mood. You lose interest in activities and feel irritable. You frequently open the cupboards in search of a carb snack to lift your spirits.

Does this sound familiar? If so, you might be experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a type of depression with a seasonal pattern. Most people experience SAD symptoms in winter.

What does SAD look like?

On top of persistently feeling down or depressed, people experiencing SAD report other symptoms:

  • Losing interest in activities they usually enjoy
  • Wanting to eat and sleep more
  • Having little energy and motivation
  • Struggling to think and concentrate
  • Feeling worthless or guilty, sometimes including thoughts of death or suicide

What causes SAD?

Researchers don’t know the exact cause, but SAD is linked with a decrease in daylight, which can affect serotonin levels (serotonin is a mood-regulating hormone). Those with a family history of depression may be more likely to experience SAD.

What can I do if I think I might have SAD?

Talk to your healthcare provider. She or he will help you figure out what you’re experiencing and will direct you to the most helpful treatments for you, which might include medication or therapy.

You might feel embarrassed or ashamed to consider you’re dealing with a mental health challenge like SAD. That’s a common feeling. Keep in mind that you’re not alone. According to the American Psychiatric Association, 5% of adults in the U.S. experience SAD—that’s more than 16 million people. Women are twice as likely as men to deal with it. (1)

Consider this: if you developed an infection or needed stitches, you wouldn’t hesitate to seek medical treatment. Be as compassionate with yourself regarding your mental health. If you’re experiencing symptoms of SAD, don’t suffer alone. Talk to your healthcare provider and start getting help.

Are there natural remedies?

Yes! Natural treatments can be very effective for SAD.

Light therapy

Light therapy involves sitting in front of a specialized light-therapy box that emits a bright light. This box filters harmful ultraviolet rays—it’s not a tanning bed. Light therapy is most effective when done 20-30 minutes a day, usually first thing in the morning. Research shows that light therapy can be an effective method to decrease depressive symptoms. (2)

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is crucial for your body to make and use serotonin, so having insufficient vitamin D can aggravate SAD. (3) Since our skin naturally makes vitamin D when exposed to the sun, it makes sense that its production would slow during the shorter winter days.

Considering that more than 40% of adults in the U.S. are vitamin D-deficient, it’s worth looking into a high-quality vitamin D supplement.

Studies have shown that vitamin D has a positive effect on depressive symptoms. One study found that adults with low vitamin D levels showed more depressive traits. For one year, researchers had participants supplement with vitamin D or a placebo. The vitamin D group reported a significant improvement over the placebo group in their symptoms. (4)

Don’t just survive another winter. With the right treatment, you’re going to feel much better and enjoy your life a whole lot more. We’re rooting for you.

Let’s get healthier, together,

Your friends at Santo Remedio

 

References 

1. https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/seasonal-affective-disorder


2. Campbell, P. D., Miller, A. M., & Woesner, M. E. (2017). Bright Light Therapy: Seasonal Affective Disorder and Beyond. The Einstein journal of biology and medicine : EJBM, 32, E13–E25.
URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6746555/


3. Patrick, R. P., & Ames, B. N. (2015). Vitamin D and the omega-3 fatty acids control serotonin synthesis and action, part 2: relevance for ADHD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and impulsive behavior. FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, 29(6), 2207–2222.
URL: https://doi.org/10.1096/fj.14-268342


4. Jorde, R., Sneve, M., Figenschau, Y., Svartberg, J., & Waterloo, K. (2008). Effects of vitamin D supplementation on symptoms of depression in overweight and obese subjects: randomized double blind trial. Journal of internal medicine, 264(6), 599–609.
URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2796.2008.02008.x

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