Seasonal Depression:
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
What is SAD?

Seasonal depression, more commonly known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is a condition of depression that usually appears in the winter months of decreased sunlight. SAD is attributed to the body’s decreased exposure to sunlight, and the consequent lack of vitamin D.

Sunlight exposure to the body naturally produces vitamin D, which in turn helps increase Serotonin (the happy hormone) levels which is a key ingredient in the fight against seasonal depression.

Vitamin D deficiency is usually tested by doctors and can be corrected with the use of Vitamin D supplements. There are many foods which help depression that contain vitamin D. But diet is usually not enough to compensate for the amount of vitamin D the body needs.

SAD symptoms can be averted by a good dose of sunshine. There are quite a few great quality sun lights on the market that are very effective in helping maintain normal energy levels.

SAD Symptoms

Symptoms of SAD may be caused by the prolonged underexposure of sunlight, especially during winter months, and the subsequent lack of vitamin D.

Read here about depression during Christmas.

The following is a list of the most common SAD symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Tiredness
  • Fatigue
  • Oversleeping
  • Hopelessness
  • Irritability
  • Sleeplessness
  • Anxiety
  • Low energy
  • Withdrawal from friends/family
  • Appetite changes
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Body aches
  • Heavy feeling in the arms and legs
  • Difficulty concentrating

If you are experiencing some of the above symptoms you are likely feeling the effects of depression due to lack of sunlight exposure.

Following the SAD treatment should eliminate the symptoms. If seasonal depression symptoms persist, ask your doctor to be tested for vitamin D deficiency.

SAD Treatment

Seasonal affective disorder can be effectively treated with light therapy, or vitamin D supplements.

Light Treatment. Light treatment seems to be the most effective. Light treatments simulate exposure to the sun and cause the body to produce Vitamin D. The treatment can be done twice a day in morning and in the afternoon.

Many commercial lights, called light boxes, are commonly available in many stores; however, make sure they are specifically designed to treat SAD. Many lights exist to treat other symptoms such as skin disorders, and incorrectly used may actually cause other health problems.

Light boxes specifically designed for SAD can be found in a variety of shapes and models.

One favorite recommended light treatment on the market is the Phillips Golite BLU Energy Light, which is small and portable enough to fit on a desk and has great features such as a clock, timer and light intensity settings. It uses LED technology which is much more energy saver than standard fluorescent lights, and extremely long lasting life.

Vitamin D Supplements. Vitamin D deficiency can also be treated. Vitamin D is usually tested by doctors and can be corrected with the use of Vitamin D supplements.

There are many foods which help depression that contain vitamin D. But diet is usually not enough to compensate for the amount of vitamin D the body needs.

Vitamin D Dosage

Sun exposure, light treatment, or diet cannot cause Vitamin D overdose because the body self regulates the Vitamin D produced by sun light, and fortified foods do not have large enough amounts of vitamin D.

Supplements may cause vitamin D toxicity when taking Mega doses, however overdose is usually uncommon. There are increased risks of toxicity with certain illnesses such as liver and kidney health problems.

According to WebMd.com the recommended daily supplement of vitamin D is:

  • 15 micrograms/day (600 IU, or international units) from ages 1 - 70 years.
  • 70 years and older should take about 20 micrograms/day (800 IU).
  • The upper tolerable limit, or highest amount you can take without risk is 100 micrograms/day (4,000 IU).

We recommend to consult a doctor before taking vitamin or mineral supplements.

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