Energy Sapped? It May Be SAD.
The good news is there’s help.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that's related to the changes in seasons. If you're like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy, making you feel moody and causing you to withdraw socially.
So, why do we get SAD?
While researchers have yet to discover the specific cause for SAD, we do know one main source that causes us to feel this way: Lack of sunlight.
The decrease in sunlight in fall and winter throws our biological clock out of whack.
Lack of sunlight:
1. Reduces the levels of serotonin: sometimes known as the happy chemical, serotonin is a neurotransmitter (brain chemical) that puts us in a good mood.
2. Increases the levels of melatonin: a natural hormone made by our body that regulates the sleep–wake cycle.
With both of these components fighting against us, it’s no surprise we find ourselves in a seasonal funk.
Fortunately there is help. There are handful of natural, inexpensive methods of coping with the "winter blues."
Here's a look at various treatments and lifestyle changes to help you keep your mood and motivation steady throughout the season.
Anyone struggling to function normally and cope with SAD should seek the help of a trained medical professional, as additional treatments may also be recommended in addition to the resources below.
Brighten up: Light therapy or phototherapy is a common treatment for SAD.
During light therapy, sufferers of SAD sit or work near a device called a light therapy box. The box gives off bright light that mimics natural outdoor light, helping to promote a chemical change in your brain that lifts you from the funk that you're in.
Although using a light therapy box is an effective and convenient way to lift one's mood during the winter, it's still no replacement for exposure to natural sunlight. Take some time each day to go outside or arrange your home or office so that you are exposed to natural light during the day. Bring daylight into your home by installing tubular daylighting devices, which are cost effective and easy to have installed.
Sweat it out: Exercise is another excellent way to fight SAD.
Exercise releases endorphins, which are hormones that reduce pain and increase feelings of well-being, and it increases your metabolism, which helps improve your energy levels.
To get the best benefit, do your exercise outside during daylight hours and get extra sunlight as well. Even 10 minutes a day can help.
Eat right: During the winter many of us find ourselves frequently carbo-loading and/or overindulging on sweets. Although eating comfort food may bring some sort of insta-relief when we're feeling down in the dumps, it's important to eat nutritious foods that naturally help to boost your mood.
Consider Herbs and Supplements: If adapting your diet isn’t cutting it, consider trying food or herb supplements as a natural remedy for SAD. For example, studies suggest that the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil can contribute to healthy emotional balance, along with Vitamin D, St. John's wort and B vitamins.
If you find yourself feeling SAD, don't brush it off as an inevitable winter side effect. Taking action when your symptoms hit could make all the difference between a dark stretch and a happy winter season.
If you are interested in bringing natural light into your home, call your local Solatube Premier Dealer to schedule a free in-home consultation. Solatube Premier Dealers are trained and certified residential daylighting experts. They can assess your needs, provide a customized solution, and install your new daylighting system in about two hours.
To find your local dealer, you can visit Solatube.com, or call Solatube International, the industry leader, at 888.SOLATUBE.