Dr. Taz MD, Solutions for Living Healthy Naturally: Treating SAD Naturally

SAD, or Seasonal Affective disorder is a disorder similar to depression that affects some people during certain times of the year. Most of the time, those with SAD experience their symptoms from late fall through winter although there are some who suffer from SAD during the summer months. About 5% of the US population experiences SAD for 40% of the year . Symptoms of SAD include hypersomnia, depression, carbohydrate cravings, weight gain, and social withdrawal .

While we cannot say exact what causes SAD, there is evidence to support that the change in daylight hours during winter months does play a role. With less daylight during winter, your body’s circadian (sleep-wake) cycle is thrown off balance causing feelings of depression.

Melatonin levels can also be affected in this way; melatonin is a hormone in the body that is involved in sleep patterns and mood. Reduced sunlight can even cause a drop in serotonin levels, which we know to be very important in controlling depression.

There are many natural ways of treating SAD. The most popular treatment is light. Light therapy involves being in the presence of specialized light therapy box for some time (usually in the morning.) This bright light early in the morning helps the body to better regulate when to be awake and when to be asleep. Exercise is another great way to beat depression and it also helps regulate sleep problems. Acupuncture and yoga have also shown to be effective in managing symptoms of depression . I recommend my patients suffering with season depression supplement their diets with Vitamin D3 5000 iu, St. John Wort 300 mg three times per day and B complex.

1.Kurlansik, S., & Ibay, A. (2012). Seasonal affective disorder. American Family Physician, 86(11), 1037-1041.

2.Mayo Clinic. “Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).” Symptoms. N.p., 22 Sept. 2011. Web. 17 Jan. 2014. <http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/basics/symptoms/con-20021047>.

3.Ravindran AV, et al. Complementary and alternative medicine treatments. Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments (CANMAT) clinical guidelines for the management of major depressive disorder in adults. Journal of Affective Disorders. 2009;117:S54.