Are you feeling particularly SAD lately? SAD – short for seasonal affective disorder – is an all too common feeling state associated with a lack of light in late autumn and winter months. If your winter is particularly gloomy and you aren’t feeling quite like yourself, seasonal depression may be to blame!
If you think you’re experiencing the effects of seasonal depression, it’s always best to schedule a visit with your primary physician to discuss all the options available. Though unpleasant, SAD is quite common and there are a variety of ways to combat the long winter days (and nights!) so you can start feeling more like your most vibrant, energetic self!
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
In short, it’s a seasonal depression state associated with a lack of light. It’s been reported that nearly 10% of Americans struggle with SAD. Seasonal depression is no joking matter as it can greatly alter your motivation, productivity and emotional well-being. The primary difference between seasonal affective disorder and depression is time: SAD usually clears up on its own and appears around the same time every year, where depression is ongoing.
Symptoms of SAD include:
• Mood swings
• Low energy
• Low libido
• Lack of interest in hobbies or pastimes
• A desire to sleep more
• Feeling generally unmotivated, sad, tired or uninterested
Having never before experienced SAD, I was surprised these past few months as I noticed my energy and mood shift from a once happy, energetic state to a more lethargic and lackluster one. After a little digging and speaking with a few trusted health professionals, I immersed myself in understanding SAD and the many natural ways to lift my mood till the summer months return. After landing on a treatment protocol that fit my lifestyle, I noticed immediate benefits that I wanted to pass on to you.
What To Do If You Feel SAD
As I mentioned before, seasonal affective disorder is no laughing matter and should be taken quite seriously. There are a variety of home remedies that I recommend below but if your symptoms are severe it’s best to seek advice from trained medical professionals immediately.
SAD Remedy #1: Light Therapy
Phototherapy requires you to sit in front of a specialized light box daily, usually anywhere from 10-30 minutes at a time. Light therapy mimics the effects of outdoor lighting and is linked to changes in mood. With few side effects it is a basic and safe treatment if you are experiencing SAD-like symptoms.
SAD Remedy #2: Vitamin D Supplements
Low levels of Vitamin D have been associated with seasonal affective disorder, according to a new study conducted at the University of Georgia. With the lack of sunlight, lower levels of vitamin D are an obvious consequence. By supplementing your diet with vitamin D rich foods, you can replenish your system and hopefully get a boost of energy in return.
SAD Remedy #3: Exercise
We all know how important exercise is for mood regulation and there’s no better time to increase your cardio routine than in the winter months! The positive effects of exercise are growing but are particularly useful for those who experience more down days than not. Serotonin – that feel-good neurotransmitter responsible for so many happy feelings – gets a boost every time you lace up your sneakers.
SAD Remedy #4: A Healthy Diet
It is no surprise that a healthy diet directly corresponds to a good mood. By fueling your cells with the vitamins and minerals they need to function optimally you’re able to ward off nasty feelings sooner than by fueling up on fried foods and refined carbs. If you need recipe inspiration, check out a few of my PiYo inspired favorites here.
SAD Remedy #5: Therapy and/or Medication
It never hurts to talk to a trusted friend, therapist or medical professional if you are feeling particularly down in the dumps. Most insurance plans offer a minimum of five therapy sessions at a discounted cost and for many people just sharing what they are going through offers enough reprieve. Medication is also available to those who experience the worst end of the SAD spectrum. Please don’t ever feel ashamed for reaching out and getting professional help with any emotional disorders; taking control of your emotional health is just as empowering as losing weight or starting a nutritional lifestyle change!
Your Turn: do you suffer from seasonal affective disorder? Share your experience below and let’s empower each other to find support!