Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

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Life naturally slows down in the fall and winter. Days are shorter, light becomes scarce, and temperature plummets. But how do you know if this seasonal slump isn’t something more serious like depression?

it’s often thought that SAD is just a “lighter” version of major depression, but this is not true. SAD is simply labeled as such because it is brought on with the change of the seasons. It should be taken just as seriously/ Consider these common symptoms below.

Common SAD Symptoms

  • Heaviness in arms and legs
  • Frequent oversleeping
  • Cravings for carbs, sugar, and stimulants
  • Deficiencies in B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, and selenium are linked to depression.

Causes of SAD

There has yet to be a specific cause of SAD, but we do know, however, that several factors are at play. Like any symptom the body may show, it’s likely caused because of a myriad of things and not one specific factor.

Due to the decreasing sunlight of the winter months, our body’s circadian rhythm can become out of whack. We get up in the dark, work in an office indoors all day, and then leave to go home in the dark.

When it’s dark, your brain produces a hormone called melatonin which helps your body get ready for sleep. Some people with SAD seem to produce much higher levels of melatonin during winter (which is also what happens to animals when they hibernate).

Natural Relief for SAD

Seeking relief? You can schedule an appointment with your primary care physician or make an appointment with a mental health professional, like a psychiatrist, psychologist, or licensed counselor. Check to see if your workplace has an Employee Assistance Program that offers free counseling or referrals to providers in your community.

In addition to seeking help from your doctor, there are lifestyle changes that can improve symptoms and lift your mood. You might try going outside more often, getting plenty of sunlight, exercising, avoiding drugs and alcohol, getting plenty of sleep, and practicing relaxation exercises. Here are some holistic approaches to ease symptoms of SAD (Complete Wellness).

Food for SAD

  • Oily fish – salmon, mackerel, trout – provide Vitamin D3 which is low in the winter months
  • Free range organic eggs – contain more Vitamin D and omega 3s int he yolks compared to conventionally raised chickens
  • Walnuts – high in omega 3 fatty acids
  • Avoid sugar and stimulants

Herbs for SAD

  • St. John’s Worth – known as the sunshine herb, it is restorative and uplifting. It also has a sedative action and works as a strengthening tonic herb for the nervous system. Taken internally, it may interact with many prescriptions so use caution and check with your physician.
  • Lemon balm – lifts moods and revitalizes by improving digestion. Consider avoiding if you have hypothyroidism.
  • Rosemary – boosts vitality by improving sluggish digestion. Consider avoiding if pregnant.
  • Rhodiola – uplifting adaptogenic herb that uplifts mood by regulating stress hormones.

Essential Oils for SAD

  • Orange – sense of optimism
  • Cinnamon – sense of enthuisiam
  • Petitgrain – antidepressant oil with refreshing and uplifting propertires
  • Lavendar – pomotoes relaxation

Other Therapies for SAD

  • Full spectrum light box
  • Acupuncture
  • visualization
  • massage
  • counseling
  • psychotherapy


Curtis, Susan, and Pat Thomas. Complete Wellness: Enjoy Long-Lasting Health and Well-Being with Lifestyle Strategies and More than 800 Easy Natural Remedies. DK Publishing, 2018.

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