No More SAD

Every winter, thousands are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a depressive mood condition that sets in during the dark, winter months and lifts in the spring. SAD symptoms include persistent sadness, anxiety, lethargy, lack of sleep, diminished sex drive, and increased appetite. The condition affects more women than men and is more prevalent in the northern latitudes of the US, where winter days are significantly shorter. You can help alleviate the symptoms of SAD by taking these few simple steps:

Light therapy
Light boxes, which are made with white florescent bulbs behind a UV filter,can generate enough light to mimic sunlight exposure at high noon. Exposing yourself to the light box’s rays for 20 minutes per day, ideally in the morning, can help to reset your body’s clock and increase serotonin, a mood enhancing hormone, according to Norman Rosenthal, MD, author of Winter Blues: Everything You need to Know to Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder (The Guilford
Press, 2005).

The US Department of Health and Human Services suggests that adults should exercise at least 300 minutes per week (or just under 45 minutes per day). In addition to improving your physical health, your mood will also get the benefit because exercise increases the amount of serotonin in your brain.

Because you are exposed to less light in the winter months, James Gordon, MD, suggests supplementing your body’s production with vitamin D (2,000 to 3,000 IU daily) for three to six months. And adding a B-complex to your regimen may also help protect against stress and promote emotional balance. Look for a B-complex supplement that includes 800 mg of folic acid and 200 mcg of each selenium and chromium.

Gordon also recommends meditation to lower stress, especially concentrative meditation (focus on a sound, word, or image), mindfulness meditation, or active meditation like t’ai chi.