Seasonal Affective Disorder – Find Your Footing

Seasonal Affective Disorder 

The winter blues.  When the season cools and the daylight lessens, sometimes we find that we don’t have our usual energy, agitated and depressed.  Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that is set off by seasons. It typically appears in the fall and winter and goes away in the spring or summer.  Diagnosis may take up to 2 years to see a pattern. So how can you remedy or at least get through the seasons?

Therapies for Seasonal Affective Disorder

There are some therapies that have been effective in treating SAD.  I will mention just a few here.

Light Therapy

This therapy has been used for a few decades.  It involves sitting in front of a light box, which filter out the ultraviolet rays and require 20-60 minutes of exposure to 10,000 lux of cool-white fluorescent light. This level of energy emulates a bright sunny day.  Who doesn’t feel good on a sunny day. Treatment is once a day for 20-60 minutes in the morning until spring comes around. Price can start at $25 to $600. This is a great therapy that is easily accessible. 

Psychotherapy

Finding a professional therapist to talk through the season to help you build an actionable plan to help cope with the season. Traditional cognitive behavioral therapy has been adapted for use with SAD (CBT-SAD). CBT-SAD relies on basic techniques of CBT such as identifying negative thoughts and replacing them with more positive thoughts along with a technique called behavioral activation.  You can find what activities best engage you and give you pleasure. Working with a therapist proficient in understanding SAD you may find that you need medication and they can help you find the best option for you such as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), bupropion, another type of antidepressant, for treating SAD.

Vitamin D

There are mixed reviews on vitamin D being useful for treating SAD.  I for one find it effective, but perhaps in combination with these therapies above you can get good results.  It never hurts to up your vitamin D whether in supplement form or upping you intake in vitamin D rich foods, and or getting plenty of outdoor time (yes even in winter) for some sunshine and exercise.  

Massage therapy

I think you knew this was coming. Massage has a rich evidence in helping alleviate depressive symptoms. How it works? It decreases the cortisol in the body that cause stress. It increases a person’s ability to get some good sleep which further reduces stress and anxiety. It has been shown in studies to be effective in alleviating Seasonal Affective disorder.

Find Your Joy Again

So now you have a battle plan.  Eat well, exercise, have a person to talk to, get sunshine real or the electrical kind, take the medicine if you need it, and get regular massages through out the season.  Do the things that bring you joy. Experiment in what activities you find refresh and de stress you and keep on doing it.  

Hydration Factor

Water being poured into a glass.


Water.  Why is it such a struggle for many of us to keep up with our water intake?  It is so easy to reach for a latte, juice or soda. But what we all need more of is good old-fashioned H20. So for motivation let’s look at some benefits of increasing your water drinking habit.

  • Less aches and pain – Our body needs water to lubricate our joints so the more we drink, the less pain you may have in your joints.
  • Dry eyes and dry mouth fix – Good hydration will help your body make sufficient saliva and mucus in the body and this can help reduce irritation from dry eyes and mouths.  This is especially important in the dry winter months.
  • Wrinkles stay away – To have a glowing complexion and stave off premature wrinkles chug your H20
  • Maintains good blood pressure – The blood is 70% water so to keep things flowing smoothly and helping the body work less to pump blood through the body, keep up your intake.
  • Weight loss – Helps things to keep moving like improved bowel function.  When you are dehydrated you have a tendency to snack more.

So how much should you drink?  A good rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces.  So if you weigh 150 lbs, then drink at least 75 ounces a day. If you are doing physical activities or its a hot day, then obviously drink a bit more than that. So drink up your water and you’ll feel and look your best!