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The winter seasons and shorter days are hard as it is. We are also feeling the gravity of happening in the world around us, so we want to really put some extra attention towards our own mental health. S.A.D. is more than just “winter blues.” The symptoms can be distressing and overwhelming and can interfere with daily functions. About 5% of adults in the U.S. experience S.A.D. and it typically lasts about 40% of the year. Studies have also shown it is more common among women than men (Torres, 2020), so reach out to the girlies around you! 

WHAT IS S.A.D 

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that occurs with seasonal patterns. We looked into it, turns out people with S.A.D may have difficulty with overproduction of melatonin (Lewy, Lefler, Emens, Bauer, 2006). Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland that responds to darkness by causing sleepiness (Miller 2005). As winter days become darker, melatonin production increases and, in response, those with SAD feel sleepy and lethargic

5 TIPS TO GET YOU THROUGH S.A.D.

1. Keep a structured sleep routine by waking up and going to bed at the same time each day, including the weekends! Improving sleep habits is a key to gaining good overall health, but what many may not know is sunlight exposure directly helps individuals sleep. When you expose yourself to early morning light at the start of your day, not only does your mood improve but your body knows through that light exposure it is time to wake up which in turn improves your sleep cycles (Selcho, 2021).

2. Make sure you’re getting healthy nutrients throughout the day! Data shows that taking 1,500 IU of vitamin D in addition to taking an antidepressant was more effective than just antidepressants alone. Foods like fatty fish, eggs, fortified milk, and supplements are good sources of vitamin D (Azad, 2021). 

3. Try to move your body 30 minutes per day, five days a week. Research shows physical activity has been found to reduce the risk of mortality, regardless of body weight, and regular aerobic exercise has been shown to boost mood and reduce depression (Drew, E. M., Hanson, B. L., & Huo, K, 2021). 

4. Be mindful of your alcohol intake. Alcohol can worsen the symptoms of seasonal depression in some cases. As alcohol is a depressant, it can make you feel worse as opposed to better if you’re already feeling depressed or anxious about other things in your life (Freedom Center, 2023).

5. Avoid blue light right before going to sleep. Night time lighting, specifically exposure to blue light, affects the circadian rhythm by inhibiting melatonin production. Melatonin is a hormone that peaks at night to help us get a restful night’s sleep and regulates the circadian sleep phase so it is ideal not to disturb your body's natural production of melatonin by avoiding blue light at night (Dearmont, nd). 

Getting through S.A.D ain't easy. All we hope is that you can give yourselves some grace, take care of yourselves as best you can, and we can get through the next few dark months together! And of course, if you are really going through it, it may be helpful to seek consultation from a mental health practitioner. If you just need a friend or community, join our DotCom where we talk about all things wellness, including mental health ☻ 

  

DISCLAIMER: THIS POST DOES NOT CONSTITUTE AS MEDICAL ADVICE. THIS POST IS NOT MEANT TO TREAT, CURE, PREVENT, OR DIAGNOSE CONDITIONS OR DISEASES; AND IS MEANT FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES. AS ALWAYS, PLEASE CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE TRYING ANY NEW TREATMENTS OR SUPPLEMENTS. 

 

Selcho, M. (2021, February 3). Sunlight, good sleep habits are the best medicine for Seasonal Depression. The Daily Universe. https://universe.byu.edu/2021/01/27/sunlight-good-sleep-habits-are-the-best-medicine-for-seasonal-depression/

Azad, A. (2021, October 22). Five ways to address seasonal affective disorder with diet and lifestyle. Institute for Integrative Nutrition. https://www.integrativenutrition.com/blog/five-ways-to-address-seasonal-affective-disorder-with-diet-and-lifestyle

Drew, E. M., Hanson, B. L., & Huo, K. (2021, December). Seasonal affective disorder and engagement in physical activities among adults in Alaska. International journal of circumpolar health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8079121/ 

Dearmont, C. (n.d.). How blue light affects mental health. Mental Health America. https://mhanational.org/blog/how-blue-light-affects-mental-health

B., N. (2023, June 12). Can alcohol affect the prevalence of depression?. The Freedom Center. https://www.thefreedomcenter.com/can-alcohol-affect-the-prevalence-of-seasonal-depression/

A. J. Lewy, B. J. Lefler, J. S. Emens, and V. K. Bauer, “The circadian basis of winter depression,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 103, no. 19, pp. 7414–7419, 2006.

A. L. Miller, “Epidemiology, etiology, and natural treatment of seasonal affective disorder,” Alternative Medicine Review, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 5–13, 2005.

N. E. Rosenthal, D. A. Sack, F. M. Jacobsen et al., “Melatonin in seasonal affective disorder and phototherapy,” Journal of Neural Transmission, supplement 21, pp. 257–267, 1986.

 

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