Why the Winter Months Can Make You SAD

Are you among 20% of the population who experience reoccurring depression/anxiety especially in the winter months?  Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a common affliction due to the days being shorter, darker and rainier.  People who have SAD report feeling “normal” in the summer months. 

Some common symptoms of SAD are:  hopelessness, anxiety, social withdrawal, oversleeping, appetite changes, weight gain, difficultly concentrating, and loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed.  .

Medical treatment utilizes anti-depressant drugs called serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) and come with many side effects and studies show they do very little to help this condition.

Let’s explore some natural approaches when dealing with SAD.

St. John’s Wort has been shown to be effective.  Hyla Cass, MD recommends St. John’s Wort to promote restful sleep and enhance dreaming.  This extract has been thoroughly researched as a natural anti-depressant.  Studies have shown St. John’s Wort produces improvements in anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, and without side effects. 

Essential fatty acids from flax, fish, and some plants are more effective than SSRI drugs.  As are amino acids like L-tryptophan and 5-HTP, and B vitamins. 

Light box therapy (also known as phototherapy or bright light therapy) is another accepted treatment.   These light boxes emit full-spectrum light and is believed to work by its effect on brain chemicals that play a role in regulating mood. 

Homeopathic cell salts such as Mag Phos, Kali Phos, or Nat Mur can offer relief from depression.  The flower essence Mustard has shown to lift the shadow of gloom from the light and joy of life. 

Jasmine essential oil acts as an anti-depressant and euphoric.  Citrus oils, like lemon, can stimulate the autonomic nervous system.

The colors yellow, orange, and red stimulate mood.  These colors can come from foods, clothing, lighting, and room décor.  Even music can be used to alleviate depression.  And, Ayurvedic medicine suggests carrying a quartz crystal.

Exercise in the winter months can be challenging but very helpful.  Find a gym, or a buddy to help keep you motivated.  A 20 minute walk outdoors at noon is all you need as this increases your exposure to natural light and can raise your spirits.

There seems to be a connection with low vitamin D levels and SAD.  There is much debate on ideal levels of this vitamin as there are toxicity concerns if too much is taken.  Food sources include cold water, fatty fish like cod, salmon, sardines, herring, fortified cereals and milk (if there are no dairy allergies). 

Carbohydrate cravings increase during the winter months and aggravate feelings of depression by altering blood sugar levels.  Consuming more protein, and fats are very beneficial as are fruits, and veggies.  Try to avoid the white flours and sugar and stay hydrated.

The far infrared sauna, which we now offer at Divine Health, mimics the benefits of natural sunlight.  A study in Czechoslovakia demonstrated that sitting in a sauna for 30 minutes, doubled beta-endorphin (neurotransmitters commonly released during intense exercise) levels in the blood, which relieves pain and may also produce a sense of well-being and euphoria. When stress hormones are reduced and serotonin increased you can experience a deep state of relaxation and a better quality of sleep. 

This information is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. It is meant as information only. For any health concerns you have, please consult with the trained health practitioner of your choice.


Divine Health Naturally Wholistic Wellness Center
556 Main St.  Harmony, PA  16037  724.355.9049