Seasonal Affective Disorder—or SAD—is a type of depression typically found in northern climates and affects approximately half a million Americans each year with three out of four being women. The season for SAD is September to April with the worst period being December through February.
SAD symptoms vary from person to person. They can be mild and increase in severity during the peak months and can ease up once the sun starts to emerge.
People who experience SAD can have decreased energy, trouble sleeping, loss of interest in activities, trouble concentrating, depressed feelings, social withdrawal, decreased sex drive and appetite, or weight-gain changes.
Here are five ways to reduce SAD this winter:
- Use a light box. A light box is used to compensate for the lack of natural sunlight during winter months. It is a form of artificial light that filters out ultraviolet rays but mimics natural daylight. Experts recommend using a light box each morning for 20 to 60 minutes.
- Stay active. Exercise can help decrease symptoms that arise from SAD and can also help decrease or stabilize weight gain that associated with irregular eating.
- Take a vitamin D supplement. Vitamin D is considered the “sunshine vitamin” as it is produced in the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight. It has been shown that vitamin D can improve mood and decrease the risk of SAD and depression in general.
- Take a deep breath of fresh air. Stepping outside as often as possible while the sun is shining can also be beneficial for your body. Nature has an unmatched power to nurture.
- Eat a well-balanced diet. A healthy, balanced diet with ample fruits and vegetables and few highly processed foods plays a role in reducing symptoms of depression, too.
“Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD),” Mayo Clinic, mayoclinic.org, Nov. 4, 2021.