Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) causes depression when seasons change and it mostly affects people during the fall and winter months. Low energy, sleep problems, trouble concentrating, carb cravings, and feelings of hopelessness are common with SAD. And while you know these feelings will subside once spring and summer arrive, that doesn't make the symptoms any easier to live with during the cold, isolating months of winter.
SAD affects women four times more often than men, and it occurs mostly in people who live in northern states. For example, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, one percent of Floridians and nine percent of New Englanders suffer from SAD. People who have SAD may not be able to properly regulate the brain chemical serotonin, which is a key neurotransmitter involved in mood. SAD also interferes with the body's circadian rhythm, which is the internal clock that influences sleep cycles.
While selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are commonly used to treat SAD, these don't come without side effects, including insomnia, restlessness, and a reduced sex drive. The good news is that there are a number of effective ways to treat it without medication. Here are the top five natural treatments for SAD.
Light therapy has been used to treat SAD for nearly 30 years, and when it's used properly, it can dramatically reduce symptoms. Since a lack of light is partially responsible for the onset of SAD, light therapy replaces the sunshine lost to shorter days. Typically, you sit in front of the lightbox for 20 minutes to an hour. The cool-white fluorescent light of the lightbox is 20 to 100 times brighter than regular indoor lighting and helps to improve circadian rhythms.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a type of psychotherapy, or "talk" therapy, that is effective for treating SAD. CBT helps you identify negative thought patterns and replace them with healthier, more positive thoughts. It also helps you change behaviors that could perpetuate the depression you feel. With therapy, you can overcome symptoms of SAD once and for all.
Since most of us get the bulk of our vitamin D from the sun, a deficiency in this vitamin is more common in the winter months. Vitamin D may play a role in serotonin activity, and a deficiency of this vitamin may be associated with SAD. While vitamin D supplementation alone won't do much to treat SAD, supplementing with it during the winter months, along with other treatments, can help improve symptoms.
When you're feeling depressed in the middle of the coldest, darkest months of the year, chances are, the last thing you want to do is hit the gym. But regular exercise can have a profound effect on depression, including depression related to SAD. Exercise increases the production of serotonin and other feel-good brain chemicals, and it can have long-term effects on depression. According to Harvard Medical School, for some people, exercise is more effective for treating depression than anti-depressants.
SAD is all in your head--specifically, in your brain. The healthier your brain, the better able you'll be to recover from SAD and get your life back in the wintertime. Thrive Naturals Super Brain Renew contains essential nutrients for optimal and healthy brain function, including vitamins A and E, DHA omega-3 fatty acids, and pure folic acid.
A daily dose of Super Brain Renew helps to boost your mood, improve focus and mental clarity, and enhance your memory.
Don't let seasonal affective disorder ruin your fall and winter months. Take definitive action against SAD, and enjoy life all year round.
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