..The Intuitive Times
Naturopathic View


SAD: Seasonal Affective Disorder

by Matt Targett

Back | Next | Contents | Home

Seasonal affective disorder or "the winter blues" consists of recurrent depressive episodes that occur yearly in the fall and/or winter seasons and spontaneously disappear in the spring. The cause of this condition seems to be linked to the lower amounts of sunlight exposure in the winter months and the resultant change in certain hormonal levels, particularly higher levels of melatonin produced by the pineal gland. Symptoms can include sadness and depression, withdrawal, irritability, decreased activity, increased appetite, and disrupted sleep patterns. Symptoms usually begin slowly and progress as the winter months continue. Conventional treatment usually consists of light therapy and anti-depressive medications.

As naturopaths we can approach this condition from many angles. Light therapy is a very effective form of treatment as it supplies the body with the stimulation that it seems to lack in the winter months. It is very safe and a very easy form of treatment that can be done in the home through the use of special lamps or light bulbs. Another invaluable treatment is exercise. Physical activity will help regulate hormone and neurotransmitter levels to compensate for the decreased sunlight. People suffering from most types of depression, anxiety and insomnia will experience a decrease in symptoms with a regular exercise or activity plan. Some people also find benefit from other therapies that stimulate their senses, such as massage, hydrotherapy, saunas and the use of stimulating essential oils such as lavender and peppermint.

We can also support our systems internally through our diets. By decreasing refined foods, saturated fats and sugars in our diet we can help keep blood sugar levels and energy levels more consistent through the day. By eating more fruits and vegetables we give our body a steady supply of energizing enzymes, vitamins and minerals. A great way to do this is through juicing fresh vegetables and fruit. This method allows us to consume a large amount of these foods throughout the day and can even help cleanse our liver and kidneys!!!

Some people find that supplementing their diet with B vitamins, essential fatty acids and various amino acids will help to support the nervous system and proper hormone production. Vitamin D is often added to the mix as its levels decrease in the body with reduced exposure to the sun.

Herbal remedies can also help our bodies deal with the symptoms of SAD. Plants such as St. John's Wort and ginseng often provide relief for people during the winter months.

There are many options available to help deal with SAD. A visit with a qualified naturopath or other complimentary health care provider can help you determine which therapies will help you beat the "winter blues".

Matt Targett practices Naturopathic Medicin in Kentville, NS and Summerside, PE

Back | Next | Contents | Home