Seasonal Affective Disorder – SAD

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Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) | Bion Healthcare

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

It’s getting to be that time of year again. A time when each day that passes, the daylight hours become a little shorter and the temperature gets a little cooler. For some this is a welcome relief from the summer heat, but for others, specifically those who suffer Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), the change in seasons begins a long, difficult, and tiresome journey.

Up to 10 million Americans are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder each year.

According to Mental Health America, up to 10 million Americans are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder each year. The fall and winter months cause those affected by SAD to experience a depressed mood and lethargy, which affects their ability to handle the normal stresses of work, school, and personal life. The ‘everyday’ simply becomes increasingly difficult to handle. For individuals who don’t know how to manage the disorder, it can negatively affect their lives. If not properly managed, SAD can cause depression, anxiety, mood changes, sleep problems, lethargy, and overeating.

What Causes Seasonal Affective Disorder?

This begs this question, what is it about the fall and winter months that cause some individuals to experience SAD? The answer is simple really, it’s the reduction of sunlight! During the fall and winter months there is less sunlight, which can affect an individual’s serotonin level, a neurotransmitter that affects mood. Those who experience SAD are shown to have lower levels of serotonin, or more specifically, higher levels of a serotonin transporter protein that removes serotonin, than those who don’t. To make matters worse, our body’s pineal gland produces more melatonin when the days are shorter and darker, which can affect our biological clocks and cause them to be out of sync with our usual sleep patterns. This also can affect our mood and helps contribute to seasonal depression.

How do you treat Seasonal Affective Disorder?

How do I recommend treating Seasonal Affective Disorder? Like many things, it’s about balance and our ability to manage our condition. To begin, if the lack of sunlight is the main culprit of SAD, I recommend spending more time outside! Yes, get your booty outside and catch some rays! I know the temperature may be less than desirable, but it will help, I promise. Also, when you’re indoors, turn on some more lights. Even something as seemingly small as turning on more lights increases your exposure to light and helps suppress the brain’s secretion of melatonin – a profound revelation, I know. In addition to increasing your exposure to light, I recommend you balance against the tendency toward lethargy with more exercise, proper nutrition, and supplementation therapy. So, get to the gym and break a sweat, crack open your functional nutrition cookbook and create some tasty dishes, and keep swallowing those choice, vitalizing supplements. Lastly, if you can afford to take a vacay to a sunny place, do it! Nothing beats a winter vacation to a sunny destination. I’ll take mine warm, please

Let’s Recap

What are the causes of Seasonal Affective Disorder?

  • The reduction in sunlight.
  • Serotonin levels. Higher levels of a serotonin transporter protein that remove serotonin, leading to decreased serotonin levels.
  • Melatonin levels. Increased melatonin production by the pineal glands.
  • Sleep patterns disrupted.

How do you treat Seasonal Affective Disorder?

  • Light Therapy. Spend more time outdoors, turn lights on inside your home, travel to a sunny destination.
  • Exercise. Maintain physical fitness.
  • Eat a functional diet. Eat more nutrient-dense, functional foods such as grains, fruits, vegetables and nuts.
  • Nutritional Supplements. Supplements are a natural way to boost immunity and replace nutritional deficits missing from your diet. 

Become a Patient

If you believe you’re suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, call us at (888) 354-2466 or click the button below. We can help you manage the condition. At Bion Healthcare, our goal is for you to experience personalized medicine that addresses the root cause of your health concerns and moves you toward optimal living.

About the author

Annamarie Salyer

Annamarie Salyer FNP-C is the co-founder of Bion Healthcare, a Functional Medicine practitioner, and author of the Bion Healthcare Blog. Mrs. Salyer, her husband, and their two daughters call the Indianapolis area home.

By Annamarie Salyer

Bion Healthcare

Bion Healthcare offers a personalized approach to healthcare. No trip to the doctor’s office required. With virtual access to our medical providers and treatments to you, Bion Healthcare is functional health and wellness care on your terms.