Seasonal Affective Disorder- How to tell if you have it and 5 tips to fight it off

Are you feeling those winter blues too?  Low energy, feeling tired, not super excited about things and just overall feeling blah.

Turns out you might have some level of Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. 

Not to worry, today, we’ll explain what it is, the symptoms to look for, what the research says and then give you 5 proven tips to fight it off.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a legitimate mood disorder that can sap your energy, rob your productivity, motivation, and joy.  It effects as many as 20% of an adult population where winter is in full swing and the daylight hours are short.

While the exact cause isn’t yet fully understood, researchers know it’s linked to imbalances in brain chemicals like serotonin and melatonin, triggered by the change in sunlight.

Here are Symptoms to watch out for:

  • Low mood and sadness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
  • Changes in appetite and sleep patterns (often increased sleepiness and cravings for carbs)
  • Feeling tired and sluggish with low energy
  • Difficulty concentrating and focusing
  • Irritability
  • hopelessness

A study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders in 2021, aptly titled “Sunlight and Vitamin D in the Treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder,” explored the effectiveness of light therapy and vitamin D supplementation. Researchers found that:

  • Individuals with SAD who received regular light therapy, mimicking natural sunlight, experienced significant improvements in their symptoms compared to a control group receiving no treatment.

  • Vitamin D supplementation also showed promise in easing SAD symptoms, likely due to its interaction with brain chemicals linked to mood.

Here are 5 Tips for Battling SAD:

  • Seek out natural sunlight whenever possible, open those curtains wide and when possible get outside to experience unfiltered sunlight Consider light therapy lamps for those darker days.

  • Move your body: Exercise gets the blood flowing and boosts mood-enhancing chemicals. Don’t hibernate – go for a brisk walk, join a gym, or find a workout you enjoy.

  • Connect  with people.  Social interaction is crucial for mental well-being. Stay connected with friends and family in person vs on the screen whenever possible.

  • Prioritize healthy eating. AIm to eat unprocessed foods with a healthy balance of a protein and fresh vegetables. Stay away from junk foods. And make sure you’re drinking plenty of water each day.

  • Seek professional help: If symptoms persist or become severe, don’t hesitate to reach out to a therapist or mental health professional. They can provide personalized guidance and treatment options that wiil help you.

Remember: SAD is real, but you don’t have to suffer in silence. By understanding the condition, recognizing symptoms, and utilizing the tools available, you can conquer the winter blues and let your light shine through.

Your move.

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