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How to defeat Seasonal Affective Disorder with simple lifestyle choices

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With shorter days and dreary weather changes, many people will begin to feel the affects of what professionals call Season Affective Disorder. In other words, feelings of lethargy and depression during the late fall and winter months.

First we need to look at the root cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Much research now shows that lower levels of Vitamin D cause or contribute to the feelings of sadness and depression for many during the winter months. According to Neurologist, Dr. Gominak, "Over the last thirty years there has been a dra­matic increase in the inci­dence of depres­sion, sleep dis­or­ders and vit­a­min D defi­ciency in all of the devel­oped coun­tries of the world, I believe these three con­di­tions are linked."

It's key to note that besides the Vitamin D we consume through the foods we eat or take as supplements, vitamin D is produced in the body by direct sunlight. Due to the fact the sun shines for less time each day and/or due to weather patterns that block direct sunlight it seems only logical that vitamin D levels would plummet during the winter as well. Thus, many experts believe this deficit is a major cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Here are a few keys to defeating Seasonal Affective Disorder before it starts:

  • Take advantage of the best natural source of Vitamin D: The sun. Sit with your eyes closed and face to the sun for 15-20 a day, whenever possible. Experts agree the best way for your body to assimilate Vitamin D is through the skin in the form of safe sun exposure.
  • Try alternative light therapy. If the sun is not shining, invest in a full-spectrum bright light. This is a special type of light that is shined indirectly into your eyes. It is important not to look directly at the light source of any light box for extended periods in order to minimize the risk of damage to your eyes.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Lots of fresh vegetables, fruit along with fish or Cod Liver oil which are all very rich in several vitamins and minerals. Fish Oil particulary if very high in Vitamin D.
  • Supplement with Vitamin D. Before taking any supplement it is best to check with your health professional. The recommended daily dose of Vitamin D for most adults is 400-1000iu.
  • Take a walk outdoors 3-4 times a week if possible. The movement and fresh air will help increase brain function and help improve mood. If walking outdoors is not possible, indoor walking or exercising if still very helpful.
  • Meditate. Many find that taking time to meditate daily helps relieve stress. Stress dangerously depletes the body of many key nutrients. Using that time to express deep gratitude has also been proven to help lift symptoms of depression and improve feelings of well being.
  • Stay Connected. Stay involved with your family and friends as well as regular activities. Social support is extremely important for those with mood disorders, especially during winter months.

Like most maladies, prevention is always the best way to stay healthy. It is much easier to prevent symptoms than it is to alleviate them once they have set in, so if you find yourself one that is prone to seasonal depression. Follow these simple steps to a happy, healthy winter time.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10888476

http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/seasonal-affective-disorder?page=2

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