When the long, lazy days of summer with abundant sunshine and plenty of sunshine are replaced with short, cold days, it’s not unusual to feel a bit low. However, some people have an extremely difficult time maintaining a positive mindset and healthy habits through the winter months because of a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
What is SAD?
SAD usually starts rearing its head during the fall, and intensifies in winter. However, some people may even experience symptoms during spring and summer.
While no specific cause has been determined as yet, researchers have attributed it – at least in part – to the reduced amount of sunlight, which could affect one’s biological clock by throwing your melatonin and serotonin levels out of whack.
People who are most at risk for SAD are young females and those who have a family history of depression. The risk increases for experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder the farther people live from the equator with shorter daylight hours and longer nights.
What is it like to have SAD (seasonal affective disorder)?
SAD is a form of depression. As such, people with SAD may experience changes in appetite and sleep, loss of interest or pleasure in activities you usually enjoy, difficulty concentrating, and in severe cases, thoughts of suicide and death. People who suffer from SAD in winter may also experience frequent oversleeping, heaviness in the limbs, carbohydrate cravings, weight gain, and relationship issues.
How to alleviate the stresses of SAD naturally
Some people may desire a more holistic approach to addressing the difficulties caused by SAD. Some options include:
Psychotherapy – Talking about your emotions can be a great way to identify negative thought patterns that can have a negative impact on your behavior and result in depression. A therapist can help you find positive coping mechanisms and relaxation techniques that can help restore lost energy.
Phototherapy – Light therapy uses special lamp or box which produces a similar type of light as natural sunlight. Exposure to this light helps trigger mood-regulating brain chemicals, which is great for winter SAD sufferers.
Supplements – There are many supplements that can help regulate how your body responds to stressful stimuli. Combining good sleep, exercise, and as much sunlight and time outdoors as possible with quality supplements can contribute to a healthy happy you.