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Treat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) Naturally

Posted by John on August 12th, 2008

I recently moved out of metro Atlanta to a cabin in a rural, wooded area. Since my move, I’ve been spending a lot more time outdoors, and with increased exposure to sunlight, my mood has improved.

I’ve always been interested in seasonal affective disorder because I’ve certainly felt the “winter blues” a few times. After spending most of the cold months indoors, I’ve often felt like I have less energy and get tired more easily. This is actually fairly common; with less sunlight and heartier meals, most people naturally slow down a bit during the winter.

But the lack of sunlight during winter affects some people more drastically, leading to clinical depression. This is known as seasonal affective disorder, or SAD.

I recently came across an interesting article about SAD at womentowomen.com. Written by Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP, the article explains SAD and offers some natural treatment options. SAD is a popular subject among women’s health experts because the condition affects 10-20% of Americans each year – and 70-80% of those affected are female.

While antidepressants work best for some people, there are many safe, natural treatment options to help you cope with seasonal sadness. Dr. Pick makes the following recommendations:

Get outside every day. Just 15 minutes a day will help you feel better.

Get some exercise. Daily exercise naturally produces more “feel good” chemicals in your body. Exercise outdoors to kill two bird with one stone!

Supplement your diet with vitamin D. If you suffer from SAD, your vitamin D levels could be low. You should get your vitamin D levels checked by a healthcare professional before extreme supplementation, as too much vitamin D can actually be toxic.

Consider phototherapy. Dr. Pick points out the Canadian researchers recently compared light therapy and Prozac for the treatment of SAD. While both worked equally well, phototherapy worked much faster and did not cause any side effects like agitation or sleep disturbance.

Apollo lights are light therapy boxes that have been used by medical professionals for over 20 years in the treatment of SAD. Their patent-pending BLUEWAVE technology is also used by NASA to help regulate the sleeping cycles of space shuttle crew members.

Apollo Brite Lite 6The Apollo Brite Lite 6 produces full spectrum light with no harmful UV rays. Treatment time is just 15 to 30 minutes and best done in the morning.

Apollo goLITEThe Apollo goLITE may be small and portable, but it’s just as powerful as the Brite Lite. It utilizes the blue light spectrum, the most healing range of light, and it’s our most popular light therapy box. The Apollo goLITE is on sale for a limited time! Order your goLITE now to save money and prepare for SAD before the seasons change.

See All Full Spectrum Lights

Keep a regular schedule. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day; this will help your body to establish an internal rhythm.

Pay attention to the seasons, and eat accordingly. Dr. Pick says, “In winter, nature encourages us to eat starchy, stick-to-your-ribs foods that store well over time, like potatoes, winter squashes, and oatmeal. This is how our ancestors survived the harsh winters when food was hard to come by.”

However…

Choose whole grains and complex carbohydrates. People with SAD often crave refined carbs and sugars, but these foods will only contribute to the mood disorder. Avoid refined carbs; instead, eat whole grains and complex carbs like vegetables.

Plan a vacation. Nothing resets the body’s internal clock like a trip to the beach in January or February! Soak up some rays and enjoy the health benefits of increased vitamin D.

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