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Signs and Treatments of Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD

These signs and treatments of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) are from longevity expert Oz Garcia, Ph.D. He not only describes the symptoms of SAD, he offers eight ways to treat winter depression.

“Long nights and cold weather days are upon us which means the ‘winter blues’ could be setting in,” says Garcia, author of Redesigning 50: The No-Plastic Surgery Guide to 21st Century Age Defiance. “The winter blues are clinically diagnosed as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a mild seasonal depression that affects many people during the long and dark winter months.  SAD can affect your mood, energy level, and diet.”

One of the easiest treatments for SAD is a Sad Light Therapy box – and the one pictured is one of the most popular on Amazon.

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And, here are Dr Garcia’s tips for treating seasonal affective disorder…

Signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

  • Carbohydrate cravings: During the fall and winter, the signal to the area of the brain that registers a sensation of fullness is suppressed.  Our brain signals encourage us to eat and gain weight in order to insulate our bodies and survive the cold weather.  Since it’s common for people to gain between five and ten pounds every winter, one way to treat seasonal depression is to deal with your carb cravings.
  • Depression:  Connections between mood and the seasons are well documented even in healthy individuals. During cold winter days our serotonin levels drop due to lack of exposure to light.  Low serotonin levels can cause depression.  Serotonin levels increase with exposure to bright light — so one way treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder is to get as much light exposure as possible.
  • Loss of energy: The days are shorter, and colder weather has been proven to make people feel lethargic.

For more signs and treatments of Seasonal Affective Disorder, read What is SAD? Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Depression.

8 Treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

1. Get plenty of natural sunlight: Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder are triggered by lack of exposure to light. Take a daily walk or exercise outdoors, both are proven mood lifters.

2. Purchase a light box: The light box provides a measured amount of balanced spectrum light equivalent to standing outdoors on a clear spring day. This has been shown to help regulate the body clock. The light from the box can help synchronize sleep/wake patterns.

3. Avoid sugary snacks: Whole grains, vegetables and fruits are a natural treatment for seasonal affective disorder or depression  because they stabilize energy.

4. Exercise regularly:  Staying fit and keeps your metabolism burning fat and calories – which helps treat Seasonal Affective Disorder.

5. Try the herbal supplement Rhodiola rosea: An herb that has been proven to fight the symptoms of SAD such as depression and loss of energy. Rhodiola has also been shown to normalize the functions of the body (250mg, twice daily). Click the image for more info.

6. Eat low-fat dairy products: When cooking hearty dishes in the winter months; reach for skim milk instead of whole milk. This natural treatment for depression will help keep your weight down, too!

7. Avoid butter, margarine, and high salt intake: Season your foods with olive oil, fresh herbs and spices instead. The food will actually taste better, and you’ll avoid extra fat and calories. For more info on how food affects your mood, read The Best Foods to Improve Your Mood.

8. Supplement your Vitamin D: Vitamin D is produced when the sun’s rays hit the skin, making deficiencies common in winter. Supplementing your vitamin D has been proven to boost overall mood.

For more info, read Seasonal Depression Disorder – How Light Therapy Helps.

If you have any thoughts about these signs and treatments of SAD, please comment below… 

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1 thought on “Signs and Treatments of Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD”

  1. I live in Vancouver, BC, and start noticing the symptoms of SAD at the end of March or the beginning of April, if it’s still cloudy and rainy and cold. I don’t really notice it at the beginning of the year – usually I’m super excited for fall, Thanksgiving, and Christmas!