How Can I Best Take Care Of Myself If I Have Seasonal Affective Disorder
Talk to your healthcare provider. By planning ahead, you can manage your symptoms and feel your best.
- Stick to your treatment plan: If you have medications or a lamp for SAD, use them as directed. Follow up with your healthcare provider if you dont see an improvement in your symptoms.
- Care for yourself: Eat a well-balanced diet. Get enough sleep. Exercise regularly. Try to manage stress, perhaps by talking to a counselor or therapist.
- Plan ahead: Make a plan for what youll do if your symptoms get worse. If you notice signs of depression, take action. It might help to plan a lot of activities during these months. Having a busy schedule keeps you from hunkering down at home.
- Start treatment early: Talk to your healthcare provider about preventive treatment. If you know your symptoms start in October, consider starting treatment in September.
- Isolate yourself: Being alone can make your symptoms worse. Even though you may not feel like going out or being social, try to reach out to friends and loved ones.
- Use alcohol or drugs: They might make symptoms worse. And they can interact negatively with antidepressants.
Natural Solutions For Sad
Conventional medicine will likely prescribe antidepressants for those who show signs of SAD. Serotonin reuptake inhibitors are often prescribed by doctors to SAD sufferers. These include citalopram, escitalopram, fluoxetine, paroxetine, and sertraline. Their side effects include weight gain and loss of sex drive.
What is the best treatment for SAD without the side effects of harsh medications? Well, the best natural ways to treat SAD are light therapy, talk therapy, and Vitamin D supplementation.
Whos Getting Too Little Vitamin D
To find out if youre low in vitamin D, youll need to get a blood test. A result of 30 nmol/L or under is too low, and anything over 125 nmol/L is too high. Aim for 50 nmol/L or slightly above, according to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements .
Some people are at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency, including those with darker skin. Darker skin contains more melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color, and more melanin makes it harder for skin to produce the vitamin from sunlight.
People who are lactose intolerant , may also be less likely to get enough vitamin D, since fortified milk is an important dietary source of it, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. African-Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, American Indians, and Asian Americans are more likely to be lactose intolerant than people of European descent.
Other groups at higher risk, according to the ODS:
- Older adults
- People who are obese
- Anyone who has difficulty absorbing fat, such as those with inflammatory bowel disease or celiac disease or who have had gastric bypass surgery
- Individuals who do not spend time outdoors or do not expose their skin
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What Is The Conventional Treatment
Exposure to bright light daily via a special light source, also know as light therapy, is the treatment method most often recommended for patients whose SAD symptoms are severe enough to affect their daily lives. Typically, SAD patients must sit in front of the light for about a half an hour per day. Light therapy is reputed to work in 80 percent of all cases of SAD. The light affects brain chemicals that play a role in regulating mood. This treatment can relieve symptoms within a few days, but sometimes takes as long as two weeks or more.
Light therapy may be recommended by psychiatrists and other physicians or health care professionals who treat patients with SAD or other forms of depression. While light boxes can be purchased without a prescription, a physician or other mental health professional can provide guidelines as to how to use a light therapy box for maximum effectiveness and may recommend a particular light box . For milder cases of SAD, the APA recommends a long daily walk outdoors or arranging your home or office so that youre exposed to outdoor light from a window during the day.
If SAD symptoms are severe, some physicians also prescribe antidepressants including paroxetine , sertraline , fluoxetine and venlafaxine or an extended-release version of the antidepressant bupropion . Physicians may recommend starting to take the prescribed drug before SAD symptoms set in and continuing beyond the time SAD symptoms normally disappear.
Boosting Your Vitamin D Levels
Vitamin D supplementation is an easy and inexpensive way to help reduce the symptoms of SAD.
90% of our essential vitamin D must come from our skin’s unprotected exposure to the sun, however during the winter months the suns ultraviolet rays are not strong enough for the body to synthesise into vitamin D.
Public Health England now advise everyone to take a daily vitamin D supplement during this period to protect bone and muscle health, but this simple supplementation could also protect you against the effects of SAD.
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Take Supplements To Promote Mental Health
Certain vitamins and minerals can have a surprisingly big impact on your mental health. We already know that Vitamin D is important for mental and physical wellness, but there are several more that may be missing from your diet.
For example, Harvard Health Publishing says, omega-3s can easily travel through the brain cell membrane and interact with mood-related molecules inside the brain. They also have anti-inflammatory actions that may help relieve depression. Zinc is important for brain health and regulates neurotransmitter pathways. Studies have even shown that beta-glucan supplements may improve physical energy, mental sharpness, and emotional well-being.
Here are a few supplements you should consider adding to your diet to promote mental wellness:
- Vitamin D
Pssst! Our GLX3 is an all-natural, highly concentrated Omega-3 supplement. It features a rare Omega-3 called ETA which is shown to inhibit pain caused by chronic inflammation. Its made from New Zealand Green Lipped Mussels and also contains EPA, DHA, and 30 other Fatty Acids. So, if a lack of Omega-3s is contributing to your seasonal depression, consider supplementing with GLX3!
Thats not all. Our Glucan85Plus can replace your Vitamin C, Zinc, Vit D3, Elderberry, Echinacea, and Beta-Glucan supplements. Plus, on top of all those mood-boosting ingredients, it provides phenomenal immune support.
Alternative Ways To Ease Symptoms Of Sad
What we know is that seasonal depression requires a complex approach. If you suspect you may be suffering from it, consider reaching out to a licensed therapist. The following activities and additional treatments will help you shake off winter sluggishness.
1. Adjusting Bedtime Routine
Move with the seasons. In fall and winter, we get less sunlight, which affects our biological clock and causes melanin disbalance. This makes us feel dispirited and disrupts sleep patterns. Therefore, try switching to an earlier bedtime if you are not getting enough sleep.
Get up early and use an alarm clock with a sunrise effect to maintain your circadian rhythm. This trendy gadget will illuminate your room gradually imitating morning light instead of obnoxious buzzing, beeping, or chiming. This allows you to wake up naturally at a time of your choosing.
2. Early Morning Walks
People with SAD should try to maximize exposure to what little daylight winter months offer. Spend at least half an hour outside early in the morning to catch some sun rays. Squeeze in 30 minutes to stretch your legs before the day begins. This will help you feel much better.
3. Light Therapy
Artificial light is highly effective for people with SAD. Therapy involves sitting near a special device emitting a bright light that imitates natural light. On the downside, you may experience irritability, loss of appetite, or even mania.
Vitamin D For Depression With A Seasonal Pattern: An Effective Treatment Strategy
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Department of Pain Management Center, United States Army Institute of Surgical Research, USA
Correspondence: Sonali Sarkar, Interdisciplinary pain anagement center, Brooke army medical Center, United states army institute of surgical research, USA, Fax 78234
Citation: Sarkar S. Vitamin D for depression with a seasonal pattern: an effective treatment strategy. Int Phys Med Rehab J. 2017 1:91-99. DOI: 10.15406/ipmrj.2017.01.00021
Seasonal Affective Disorder: Vitamin D And Depression
Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions, but seasonal depression often goes overlooked. Many people think the symptoms of season depression are simply the winter blues. But, Seasonal Affective Disorder is much more than that. This mental condition can cause serious emotional and psychological distress if left untreated.
SAD is treatable, but recognizing and acknowledging the problem is the first step toward recovery. You should understand what seasonal depression is, what causes it, and what treatments are available.
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Should I Increase My Vitamin D
Incorporating more vitamin D into your lifestyle might be a beneficial component of a comprehensive treatment of depression. It certainly does not do any harm to incorporate more vitamin D foods into your diet, such as fatty fishes, dairy products, and mushrooms.
However, there shouldnt be a rush to buy a vitamin D supplement studies have given very mixed results as to whether or not vitamin D supplements actually helps depression. Taking vitamin D supplements alone isnt likely to change your mood. In fact, a 2020 study found that Vitamin D3 supplementation compared with placebo did not result in statistically significant differences in the incidence and recurrence of depression or clinically relevant depressive symptoms. If you expect it to work like other antidepressant treatments, you will likely be disappointed.
What Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider
If you have SAD, ask your provider:
- What treatment is best for me?
- How can I prevent depressive episodes?
- Will light therapy work?
- Should I take an antidepressant?
- When should I start treatment?
- How long should my treatment continue?
- What can I eat to improve my symptoms?
- What else can I do to feel better?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that happens every year during a specific season, usually winter. Symptoms can include a lack of energy and feelings of hopelessness. Fortunately, theres treatment for seasonal depression. Talk to your healthcare provider. The provider may recommend a special lamp for SAD. The lamp emits bright light to improve symptoms. Antidepressants and talk therapy can also provide relief. If youve had seasonal depression in the past, talk to your provider about starting treatment before symptoms begin.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/07/2020.
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Can Taking Vitamin D Help With Seasonal Depression
For some people, getting into the festive winter spirit can be comforting and exciting. But for many people who struggle with seasonal depression or seasonal affective disorder , winters colder temperatures and shorter, darker days can feel dreadful. The lack of sunlight this time of year can also cause low levels of vitamin D, which may contribute to mood changes like depression. You might wonder, then, if taking a vitamin D supplement or eating more vitamin D-rich foods can help ease symptoms of SAD. POPSUGAR spoke with experts to find out.
Adjust Your Morning And Nighttime Routines
Moving with, rather than against, the changing seasons can be an effective way to cope. “Winter-onset SAD may be caused by the decreased amount of sunlight in the fall and winter, which affects your biological clock, or circadian rhythm,” nutritionist Shauna Hatcher, MSPH, told POPSUGAR. “The changing of the seasons can throw off the body’s melatonin balance, which affects sleep patterns and mood in the long run.”
Pay attention to how much sleep you’re getting each night, and try to set an earlier bedtime if needed. According to psychiatrist Michel Mennesson, MD, adjusting your morning routine is also a great way to work with the shortening days. “Consider keeping a regular circadian rhythm of getting up early, closer to sunrise, and using an alarm clock with a progressive sunrise effect,” Dr. Mennesson told POPSUGAR.
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Best Supplements For Seasonal Affective Disorder
As always, its important to talk to your doctor before adding any new supplements to your daily regimen to make sure theyre right for you. If youve already taken this step and are ready to try them out, weve rounded up seven options that may just be your saving grace this winter. Keep scrolling to learn more about Womans Worlds picks for the best supplements for seasonal affective disorder on the market today.
Are There Clinical Trials Studying Sad
NIMH supports a wide range of research, including clinical trials that look at new ways to prevent, detect, or treat diseases and conditionsincluding SAD. Although individuals may benefit from being part of a clinical trial, participants should be aware that the primary purpose of a clinical trial is to gain new scientific knowledge so that others may be better helped in the future.
Researchers at NIMH and around the country conduct clinical trials with patients and healthy volunteers. Talk to your health care provider about clinical trials, their benefits and risks, and whether one is right for you. For more information about clinical research and how to find clinical trials being conducted around the country, visit the NIMH Clinical Trials page.
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What Type Of Antidepressants Can Help With Seasonal Affective Disorder
Medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors can treat SAD. They improve mood by regulating serotonin levels in your body.
Another approved antidepressant called bupropion comes as an extended-release tablet. It can prevent seasonal depression episodes when people take it daily from fall to early spring.
Keeping A Regular Sleep Schedule
Insomnia, hypersomnia, and other sleep issues have been linked to depression. To cope with these symptoms, create a regular sleep schedule. That could mean setting a sleep and wake alarm. You might also keep a journal to log how long you slept and the quality of your sleep. This will help you track your progress.
Can Supplemental Vitamin D Help Mitigate Sad
Lack of sunlight is associated with low mood for many people. Vitamin D also appears to play a role.10%20%SAD and Vitamin D LevelsJournal of Global Diabetes & Clinical Metabolismconnection between low levels of vitamin D and symptoms of SADStudy: Vitamin D Can Improve Mood in People with SAD vitaminD3 vs D2,5,000 IU dailySupplements, as well as foods rich in vitamin D can help boost levels and make winter more palatable.Great Food Sources of Vitamin D
- Egg yolks
- Cod liver oil
Other Ways to Ensure Sufficient Vitamin D Productioncontact us at any time.
Diagnosis Of Vitamin D Deficiency
To diagnose vitamin D deficiency, your doctor will order a test to measure the amount of vitamin D in your blood.
To diagnose depression, your doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms. You may also be asked to complete a self-assessment. Depression cannot be diagnosed using a blood test.
Your doctor will also ask you questions and perform a physical exam to determine if you have depression. And there may be other exams and lab tests to rule out any other potential underlying issues, as well as to determine whether your symptoms of depression may be linked to a vitamin D deficiency.
You can treat vitamin D deficiency and its symptoms by increasing your intake of this vital nutrient. Ways you can consume more vitamin D include:
- taking vitamin D supplements
- increasing your sun exposure
- eating foods containing vitamin D or that are fortified with vitamin D
To treat depression, psychotherapy and antidepressant medications are common treatments. They can be incorporated separately or in combination with dietary changes, depending on your symptoms and treatment goals.
If your depression is related to a vitamin D deficiency, increasing your vitamin D may help to relieve your symptoms.
Speak with your doctor about your treatment options and what would work best for you.
People with depression can also take steps to alleviate symptoms of depression. Some of your options may include:
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Relationships Between Vitamin D And Depression And Other Mental Health Disorders
There has been research examining the relationship of vitamin D to seasonal affective disorder , schizophrenia, and depression. Several studies have examined whether light therapy improved mood. randomized 29 patients in a parallel fashion to either one hour or 15 minutes of light therapy in the morning for two weeks in the winter. One hour of light therapy significantly decreased depressive symptoms more so in the group with SAD than the control group . randomized 15 participants with SAD to either 100,000 IU of vitamin D or phototherapy . They reported that depression decreased in persons who received vitamin D as compared to those who received phototherapy . There were no untoward side effects from the dose of vitamin D however, a limitation of the study was the one time dose.
Recently, reported in a population-based cohort study of over 1,200 persons aged 65 and older, that levels of 25 D were 14% lower in persons with minor depression and 14% lower in persons with major depressive disorder when compared to controls . The Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression scale was used to assess for depression, and persons also had a psychiatric evaluation using the Diagnostic Interview Schedule to verify their mental status. Depression severity was associated with low serum 25 D , even after adjustment for age, sex, body mass index, smoking status, and the number of chronic conditions .