The winter months bring shorter days, less sunlight and more gloomy weather. Have you noticed that you feel tired or sad? Are you craving carbs? Have you stopped doing activities you usually enjoy? If so, it could be Seasonal Affective Disorder, aka SAD.
What can you do about Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Actually there are many simple and inexpensive ways to feel better.
- Light therapy: Sitting in front of a full-spectrum light box for 30min a day in the morning can improve symptoms of SAD in as little as a few days. They emit light similar to the sun and can be easily purchased without a prescription. Try typing in “full spectrum light” on Amazon and many options will pop up. Light therapy can boost your energy, perk up your mood and help you sleep better!
- Vitamin D: Also known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’, over 70% of the US population is estimated to be deficient in Vitamin D! You can get some from eating foods like eggs and salmon, but the majority of Vitamin D is made in your skin in response to sunshine. Most people need to take an extra Vitamin D supplement of at least 2000IU, especially during the winter months. Your doctor can measure your vitamin D level in a simple blood test so you can make sure you are getting enough.
- Exercise: Endorphins and serotonin are chemicals in the brain that make you feel happy. They are released when you exercise, so going outside for a walk (weather permitting), dancing, or visiting the gym can decrease your SAD symptoms. In studies, exercise has the same or better effects when compared with an antidepressant!
If you are having problems that are not going away with these simple measures and would like more help, please let us know. A Functional Medicine approach (addressing hormones, nutrition, gut health, detoxification and lifestyle habits) can help transform your mental health!