Natural Treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder


It’s that time of year when the days are short and the temperature is cold. Some people enjoy these days so they can cozy up with a cup of coffee and a good book. For others, this is a time of year that they struggle with depression.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is defined as at least a two-year history of depression that is present from the winter until spring. Typical symptoms of SAD include:
  • Low mood
  • Irritability
  • Sadness
  • Carbohydrate cravings
  • Lack of motivation
  • Increased sleep needs
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight gain
Some patients with SAD turn to anti-depressants to address this. For those who want to avoid medications there are many alternatives:
  • Keep a regular schedule – Keep you sleep and wake times consistent from day to day and create structure into your work and home schedule.
  • Light Box – Using a wide-spectrum light box that emits 10,000 lux 30 minutes per day in the morning can be effective for SAD.
  • Exercise – Getting regular exercise can be just as effective for depressed mood as a pharmaceutical medication.
  • Vitamin D – Vitamin D can be helpful for SAD. Good sources are fish such as wild salmon, sardines (bonus if you eat the bones!), eggs and shitake mushrooms.
  • Meals – Eating a source of protein with your meals keeps your blood sugar stable, which can help with overall mood. Adding nuts, seeds, yogurt, grass-fed meats and beans will keep your energy up. Avoid added sugar and refined carbohydrates.
  • Vitamin D, melatonin, and tryptophan have all been shown to help with SAD. Minchex and Orchex from Standard Process can be effective for this. It is best to check with a natural healthcare provider before taking a new supplement to make sure it is right for you.
Article adapted from Bastyr University.