Seasonal Affective Disorder
Waking up, driving to work in the dark and then leaving work and driving home in the dark can leave some people feeling a little depressed, low on energy, and even irritable. This type of depression, known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) most commonly occurs when fall arrives, days shorten and hours of sunlight begin to decrease. SAD generally will continue into the winter months but then starts to let up once spring returns and the length of daylight starts increasing.
What are the causes of SAD?
The amount of daylight a person takes in has an effect on their circadian rhythm (internal clock), their serotonin, melatonin, and vitamin D levels among other things.
Are there natural treatments for SAD?
One thing SAD sufferers can do is use phototherapy, also known as light therapy. This involves sitting in close proximity to a light box and letting the broad spectrum rays hit your face for a period of time. The length of time you sit by the light box depends on its size and intensity. Some people sit by their light box when they are eating breakfast, reading, or paying bills. These phototherapy boxes do not contain harmful UV rays so rest assured you will not get sunburn after sitting in front of one!
A recent story at delawareonline.com notes the important role light therapy can play in treatment:
The most common treatments for seasonal affective disorder are light therapy, counseling and medication. Light therapy simply could encompass taking a walk outside in the sunlight for 20 or 30 minutes or illuminating your work space or house with special lamps. “I like the light therapy move because it has fewer negative effects since it doesn’t have the damaging concerns that come from the sun,” [Dr. Lillian Kraman-Roach] said.
The lamps use a special light bulb that are equivalent to the full spectrum of the sun without the damaging rays, she explained. Typically the doctors recommend light therapy at a 10,000-lux luminosity for 30-minute sessions and two-hour sessions with a 2,500-lux light box.
Vitamin D Deficiency
Another thing you can do is supplement with vitamin D. Many people become vitamin D deficient in the winter months because of the loss of sunlight. Our bodies make Vitamin D when we absorb UV rays, consequently a change in the UV ray supply will affect our vitamin D levels.
A University of Georgia study noted a link between seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, and a lack of sunlight. “Rather than being one of many factors, vitamin D could have a regulative role in the development of SAD,” said Alan Stewart of the University of Georgia College of Education.”
You can find light therapy products from Alaska Northern Lights and Vitamin D supplements in our online store. Please consult with your Center for Optimal Health physician to determine if light therapy or Vitamin D supplements might help you.
Christina Heidemann 1/6/15
Seasonal affective disorder – Mayo Clinic http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/basics/definition/con-20021047
Seasonal Affective Disorder – American Psychiatric Association http://www.psychiatry.org/seasonal-affective-disorder
Seasonal affective disorder: Explaining the sad of SAD – delawareonline, The News Journal http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/health/2015/01/05/seasonal-affective-disorder-explaining-sad-sad/21285337/
Vitamin D deficiency, depression linked in UGA-led international study – University of Georgia Today http://news.uga.edu/releases/article/vitamin-d-deficiency-depression/
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