Natural Treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

To find the best natural treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder, you need to experiment. These ways to treat SAD include herbs, supplements, and herbal supplements.

“The more you’re stressed, the greater the risk of accidents, infections, and arterial aging,” writes Dr Mehmet Oz in YOU: The Owner’s Manual: An Insider’s Guide to the Body that Will Make You Healthier and Younger.  “It’s not really the stress we’re worried about, since everyone has it; it’s more your response to stress.”

These natural treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder are from Dr Jared Schulman of MamaHerb.

Natural Treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder

Before you jump into treating Seasonal Affective Disorder, make sure it’s actually what you have.

“It may be important to get to the root of the underlying depression,” says Dr Schulman. “If it’s not Seasonal Affective Disorder, your holiday blues could be due to financial or relationship problems such as family tensions over the Christmas holidays.”

The first tip for treating Seasonal Affective Disorder naturally, you need to determine what’s really getting you down.

Learn why exercise is a natural treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder

“Exercise leads to the release of endorphins, which are neurotransmitters that affect the brain on a number of levels,” says Dr Schulman. “They have been shown to help increase cognition and fight depression and stress. Exercising regularly not only helps release these endorphins, but helps you feel better about yourself as well. This is especially important around the holidays when healthy diets are often put on hold.”

Chew on Basil leaves

According to the experts at Mamaherb, chewing organic basil leaves may help relieve certain stress-producing compounds found in the body. In a recent study, stress-induced biochemical changes were seen in male rats which displayed promising antistress effects by normalizing hyperglycemia, plasma corticosterone, plasma creatine kinase, and adrenal hypertrophy.

To decrease seasonal depression, chew on something other than your family’s quirky habits!

Consider natural supplements for Seasonal Affective Disorder

“A lesser known naturally occurring compound is the slender dwarf morning glory (Evolvulus alsinoides),” says Dr Schulman. “This hairy perennial herb, according to Mamaherb, is native to India and can be found in holistic and herbal stores.” Slender dwarf morning glory also contains a number of extracts that may help with seasonal depression. Dr Schulman says this herb contains some phenolic constituents, which lower stress hormones.

Supplement with Ginko Biloba and Panax Ginseng

Two natural stress relievers are Ginkgo Biloba and Panax Ginseng. “These herbs were compared in a recent study,” says Dr Schulman. “Ginko Biloba was administered at 30 mg/kg orally and Panax Ginseng was administered at 100 mg/kg orally to rats. This was followed by close monitoring of acute stress and chronic stress markers. Ginko Biloba significantly reduced all acute stress markers. Panax Ginseng significantly reverted two of the six parameters. Chronic stress was relieved by ginseng, but not Biloba. From this study, Gingko Biloba is more effective in acute stress, whereas for chronic stress, Panax Ginseng is a better option.”

Stay healthy during the winter holidays

Stress and the immune system go hand in hand. Taking daily vitamins or eating foods high in vitamins (especially Vitamins A, B, C, and potassium) can be a natural treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder and a boost for your immune system. Natural ways to feel better include eating citrus fruits, nuts and seeds (especially sunflower seeds and cashews), bananas and apples.

If you haven’t tried light therapy for SAD, read Seasonal Depression Disorder – How Light Therapy Helps.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

According to Dr Schulman, about 5 percent of the population suffers from seasonal depression in the United States. Another 10 to 20 percent may suffer from a more mild form of winter blues.

Three-quarters of the sufferers of Seasonal Affective Disorder are women, mostly in their 30s and 50s.  However, seasonal depression and stress can affect men and children as well.  It’s more commonly seen in people who live at high latitudes (geographic locations farther north or south of the equator), where seasonal changes are more extreme.

The exact cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder remains a mystery, but the influence of latitude strongly suggests that it is caused by changes in the availability of sunlight.  One theory is that with decreased exposure to sunlight, the biological clock that regulates mood, sleep, and hormones is delayed, running more slowly in winter.  Exposure to light may reset the biological clock. Another theory is that brain chemicals that transmit information between nerves, called neurotransmitters (for example, serotonin), may be altered in individuals with seasonal depression.

Want to learn more about natural treatments for SAD? Read Winter Blues: Everything You Need to Know to Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Dr Schulman is the Medical Expert for Mama Herb.

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2 thoughts on “Natural Treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)”

  1. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thanks for your comment, Frank — yes, St John’s Wort is supposed to be good for Seasonal Affective Disorder.

    But, people need to talk to a naturopath or do research on dosage amounts, possible contraindications or problems with other types of medication, light therapy versus herbs like St John’s Wort, etc.

    Some people with SAD really benefit from light lamps or light boxes. I can provide more info about that, if anyone needs!

  2. It is well known for a long time that St John’s Wort helps SAD sufferers. Non supplement style solutions but nevertheless working are Bright Lighttherapy and as a preventive method Full Spectrum Daylight Lamps, e.g. from Viva-Lite.