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Treat SAD This Winter

Seasonal Affect Disorder can really impact your plans and throw off your mood. Learn more about this not uncommon problem and try these tips to help combat it for a better winter season.
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The weather is changing and while some of you are celebrating the break in the heat, others may be feeling under the weather. Winter is seen as a darker season for its cloud cover and colder temperatures but you may notice your mood dropping this winter without any reason behind it.

If you're dreading the season change and don't know why, you might need to look into Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. (Appropriate name, right?) If you've never heard of it or if you're wondering why your depressed moods don't seem to stay all year round, check out the rest of this article to learn more.

What are the Causes?

Unfortunately, more research is needed to know exactly why the seasons affect human behavior. Whether it's the colder temperatures, the lower amount of sunlight or something entirely different, we can't be sure.

What's more, SAD can happen to people in the summer. It's much more rare but not unique. So if you're feeling SAD, you're not alone. (Oh come on, you knew that joke was coming.)

Who is Affected?

Studies show people over 35 living in more northern regions were more likely to have winter SAD while those affected with summer SAD had no location correlation. However, SAD has been documented at nearly all locations for various ethnicities and even for children. It affects not just mood but psychiatric illnesses such as bulimia and anorexia as well.

Symptoms

Because Season Affective Disorder can affect people differently, the symptoms can be vast. For most people, SAD mimics that of regular depression of anxiety including:

  • Lack or change of appetite
  • Mood swings
  • Sadness
  • Loneliness
  • Loss of interest
  • Change of sleep patterns
  • Weight change

  • For others, it could affect other symptoms. For example, if you are prone to an eating disorder, the urges may surge or be stronger in the winter than at other times. 

    What to Do About It

    The good news is that once identified, you can start to combat SAD by being more aware of what's happening around and inside you. While mood disorders like depression and anxiety are very difficult to deal with on your own, knowing a cause will help you be better prepared for coping. Try these tips this winter:

    Vitamin D - Studies have found positive results with increased vitamin D intake to treat SAD symptoms.

    St. John's Wort - This herb is a favorite for treating mood and depression symptoms. We explain why in this article. Stocking up for the season may help you beat those winter blues.

    Mood Supplements - These herbal supplements are designed to lift your mood and give you a sunny disposition. Likewise, calm racing thoughts that may be associated with holiday pressures.

    Stay Healthy - Keep up with your vitamin C and multivitamins to make sure you won't get sick. Nothing takes the smile off your face like a bad flu or cold. Try echinacea or elderberry all winter to fend off germs before they get you.

    Try herbal supplements to treat SAD symptoms during winter or summer seasons.

    Light It Up

    Light Therapy is by far the most widely successful treatment for SAD symptoms. This is performed by sitting in front of a bright light for a short period of time every day and you can see the positive effects in as little as a week. Lights are designed specially for SAD to mimic sunlight to trigger the stuff in your brain that makes you happy. It's like having the sun on your desk.

    What to look for:
  • 10,000 lux of light exposure
  • Little to no UV light emitted

  • How to use it:
  • First thing in the morning
  • 20-30 minutes
  • 16-24 inches away from face
  • Eyes open but not looking directly into light

  • You can use your light while you get ready in the morning shaving, applying make-up, checking e-mail or just drinking coffee as you wake up. The light should help you feel aware more quickly as well so if you have a hard time getting out of bed it's a great way to help you wake up.

    You can also use it in the middle of the day or in the evening if you feel your symptoms flair. Just don't use it too close to bedtime as it will throw off your natural melatonin production and could make it harder to sleep.

    Be Safe

    Ask your doctor about all of the above suggestions before trying any new supplements or treatments especially if you're taking medications or are pregnant. SAD can be just as serious as a long-term disorder and disrupt your life so it's important to be safe.

    If you're feeling hopeless or having intense thoughts, please seek medical or professional help right away.

    Are you excited for winter or dreading the season change? Tell us your favorite time of the year on our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages and tune in next weeks for more healthy tips!

    Sources: X, X, X, X

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