Ever felt an acute sadness that seems to arrive when the days become colder and shorter? If so, it’s possible you’re one of the millions who experience S.A.D. The acronym for Seasonal Affective Disorder could be mistaken for a psychology nerd joke, but the condition is anything but funny. Commonly called “the winter blues,” S.A.D. might be why you feel depressed in the fall and winter months. Those worried about the shifts they feel, notably after Daylight Savings Time, should know they are supported and not alone. There are many all natural ways to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder. 

An estimated 10 million Americans suffer from S.A.D., which is characterized by a depressive period that comes on as the fall sets in and disappears noticeably during spring and summer. As with any mood disorder, symptoms aren’t textbook for everyone, but they do fit the same descriptions as depression. S.A.D.  is officially recognized by the American Psychiatric Organization. If your depressive symptoms recur over two winter seasons they qualify, diagnostically, as Seasonal Affective Disorder. Those who already suffer from depression may also find their symptoms worsen during the winter months.

As with non-seasonal depression, the symptoms can be debilitating. You may feel the hallmarks of depression: hopelessness that affects your work, relationships, and general well-being on a day to day basis. Another issue with S.A.D. is that it can lead to a feeling of dread at the mere thought of winter approaching.

Luckily, there are natural remedies that can help you fight off S.A.D. and enjoy what winter has to offer. Scientists have been able to make strides in its treatment merely by looking at the contrast between the seasons.

Below are several ways to help beat S.A.D., so you don’t have to dread the winter (at least as much).  

Take a Vitamin D3 supplement*

A deficiency of Vitamin D3, which the body absorbs primarily through exposure to sunlight, has been linked to myriad of health issues. Many studies have shown strong links between Vitamin D3 levels and mood. If your Vitamin D levels fall it does take awhile to build them back up, so begin taking a supplement prior to the winter months to get your reserves at a healthy level. We carry Vitamin D3 in softgels, tablets, liquids and gummies in strengths of 400IU-10,000IU, with 2,000IU being the most commonly used strength.  An extra bonus is Vitamin D3 supports your immune system as well.

*always contact your doctor before taking a supplement

Try Melatonin

Research has shown that patients with S.A.D. benefitted from a low dose melatonin supplement in the afternoon to help shift their body clock to respond better to shorter, darker days.  We carry Melatonin in low doses of 300 mcg to 1 mg in sublingual tablets or liquid as well as doses up to 5 mg to help regulate circadian rhythm for a better night’s sleep.

Supplement with Omega 3

Foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids can improve your mood.  The brain is made of 60% fat so it makes sense! If oily fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds are not your favorites, try supplementing with a high EPA fish oil supplement.  1,000 mg of EPA daily has been shown to improve depression. We also carry Algae-Based Omegas, if you prefer to avoid fish.

Spice it up with Turmeric high in Curcumin

A 2017 study found that Curcumin, 1 of the active ingredients found in Turmeric, reduced depression.  Adding turmeric to your foods is helpful, but a high potency Curcumin supplement of 250-750 mg will be more effective.  We carry straight Curcumin capsules and softgels by Terry Naturally or turmeric high in curcumin in powders, gummies or capsules.  Gaia’s or Garden of Life’s Golden Milk is a delicious drink perfect for winter and includes turmeric with curcumin.

Brighten your indoor light

If shorter days have left you feeling dark, bring the light to you! Light therapy boxes have been shown to help treat the symptoms of S.A.D. by mimicking the specific effects of outdoor light. Unfortunately, the glow of Netflix doesn’t have the same effect.  While we don’t carry lightboxes, (we recommend www.sunbox.com), we carry Blues Buster light bulbs, which produce a full spectrum light more similar to sunlight. They last 6 times longer than regular light bulbs, fit normal lamps and reduce eye strain. Their light brings light with a quality similar to sunlight into your home or workplace.

Move your body

Especially if you’re someone who spends most of the warmer months outdoors, winter may see your overall physical activity levels drop. It’s normal, to an extent, to go into a bit of winter hibernation mode. Energy levels may naturally fall, and our bodies mimic the very leafless trees we see in nature. The issue here is that you’re also going to feel your mood plummet. Keep up your exercise! It’s the easiest way to keep your mood levels up (thanks, endorphins), relieve anxiety, and generally stay more positive. Unless you’re a skier, you may naturally become less active in the winter. This makes it the perfect time to try that new yoga studio you’ve been eyeing.

While you can treat Seasonal Affective Disorder with these tips, don’t attempt to handle this all on your own! S.A.D. is a medical condition and is not to be taken lightly. Always consult your doctor if have symptoms of depression, regardless of the season!