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Seasonal Affective Disorder: Winter Blues Tips

Seasonal depression
Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs at a specific time of the year, typically during the fall and winter months when daylight hours are shorter. This condition can impact one's mood, energy levels, and overall well-being.

Let's take a deeper look at what SAD is and how various natural remedies, including light therapy, diet, supplements, and homeopathy, can offer relief to those affected by this seasonal blues.

Understanding Seasonal Affective Disorder:

SAD is believed to be linked to changes in light exposure, affecting the body's internal clock (circadian rhythm) and neurotransmitter levels, such as serotonin and melatonin. Symptoms of SAD may include persistent feelings of sadness, fatigue, irritability, changes in sleep patterns, and difficulty concentrating. SAD symptoms. 

The symptoms of SAD differ slightly from an ordinary depression in that there’s an increase in appetite and subsequent weight gain. Other depressions are more often accompanied by a loss of appetite. Typical symptoms of SAD are: 

–  Depression with apathy: a loss of interest in things and people that formerly gave pleasure and enjoyment. 

–  Loss of libido. 

–  Sluggishness: ranging from feeling heavy and tired to overpoweringly sleepy. 

–  Sleep is not refreshing: exhaustion isn’t relieved by sleep and they wake feeling tired. 

–  Difficulty in concentrating and doing mental work. 

–  Loss of mental creativity. 

–  Craving for heavy foods, for foods high in carbohydrates (bread and pastry), and for sweet things (candy, cookies, and cakes). 

–  Feeling generally worse in the autumn and winter, in the dark and the cold. 

–  Feeling generally better in the spring, for light, especially for sunshine.

1. Light Therapy:

Exposure to bright light, mimicking natural sunlight, has shown promising results in alleviating SAD symptoms. Light therapy involves using a lightbox for approximately 30 minutes to an hour each day. This can help regulate circadian rhythms and improve mood. It's essential to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the appropriate intensity and duration for light therapy.

2. Diet:

Nutrition plays a crucial role in all of our mental health and certain dietary adjustments may help manage SAD symptoms.

Consuming foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds, has been associated with improved mood. Maintaining a well-balanced diet with sufficient vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin D, can contribute to overall mental well-being.

3. Supplements:

Vitamin D3 deficiency has been linked to most mood disorders, and since sunlight is a primary source of vitamin D3, individuals with SAD may benefit from supplements. While you should always talk to your healthcare providerl to determine the appropriate dosage (bone density and health, as well as some cardiac concerns can affect your ability to supplement with D3), many of our own clients have seen a marked improvement with increasing their Vitamin D3 doses to 5000-8000 IUs daily for the winter months, decreasing in the early spring back to 2000-3000 IUs. Additionally, omega-3 supplements should also be considered as they have been associated with mood improvement.

4. Homeopathy:

Some individuals explore homeopathic remedies to manage SAD symptoms. Homeopathy involves using highly diluted substances to stimulate the body's natural healing processes.

Common remedies for SAD may include:

Ammonium carbonicum is for chilly individuals who are very much affected by the dull, cloudy weather of winter – they become apathetic and unmotivated, not wanting to work or do anything. They eat themselves silly. – craving lots of sweet things (especially candies which give them toothaches)

– put on lots of weight.

Aurum metallicum is for those who sink into terrible depression in the dark of the winter feeling like the cloud is sitting over them. At their worst, they feel that life isn’t worth living. They take solace in work and/or religion and hide themselves away listening to sad music until the sun returns the following spring.

Phosphorus has a really close relationship with the weather, loving the sun and sparkling with it – actually feeling invigorated by being out in the sunshine. They are deeply affected by cloudy weather – becoming miserable and gloomy the longer the sun stays away. In the deepest, darkest time of the winter they can slow right down, not wanting to do anything. Chocolate (especially chocolate ice cream) is a great source of comfort at those times – as are their friends. Even brief outbursts of sunshine on a winter’s day will lift their spirits, as can getting out with friends and going to a party or going dancing!

Rhus toxicodendron is useful for those who are particularly vulnerable to cloudy weather, who find that the cold, damp, wet and cloudy weather makes them feel just plain miserable. Their body reacts to the cloudy weather by stiffening up – especially the back and the joints – which makes them feel even worse. Getting up after sitting or lying down for a while is hard, and then continued movement eases the stiffness – unfortunately, those joints start to hurt again if they are using them for a while so they have to rest – after which the whole maddening cycle starts again, thereby causing the restlessness that is a keynote for this remedy.

Sepia is for extremely chilly types who hate everything about winter: the damp, the rain, the frost, the snow, the clouds – everything. Their moods start to lift when they begin to get warm again in the late spring and early summer when they can get out in the fresh air and do some vigorous exercise. These people love to run much more than jog, and it is this kind of exercise – vigorous exercise in the fresh air – that makes them feel really well overall. If they can’t do it, they sink into a depressed, irritable state where they want to be alone (and eventually, so does everyone else – want them to be alone that is!)

However, it's crucial to approach homeopathy with caution and consult a qualified practitioner for personalized recommendations.

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