It’s perhaps the most apt acronym in the world. SAD stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder, what many of us call winter blues. It strikes most often in the fall, when days suddenly grow shorter and the brilliant summer sun turns into hazy, cloudy light. Seasonal Affective Disorder starts to diminish our energy, we struggle to get out of bed in the morning, and feeling tired and sick, our mood grows gloomy.
So is it all in the mind? Or does Seasonal Affective Disorder relate to our evolution? In the wild, with winter cold and scarcity of food animals sleep more, even hibernate. In preparation for winter, fall is the time to store up winter fat by eating and resting. Scientists have reasoned that nature creates a proclivity in many of us for Seasonal Affective Disorder. The need to overeat, sleep in late, and withdraw from strenuous activity are all symptoms of SAD purposefully generated by our body to prepare us for winter survival.
Not everyone experiences Seasonal Affective Disorder in the same intensity, and many people never become conscious of the fact that they are more irritable, moody or tired. They just sense the heavy unhappiness of winter blues. But there is a way to beat winter blues once we acknowledge that they’re there. In other words, there is no need to accept Seasonal Affective Disorder as the way of things. As with other perfectly natural steps the body takes to protect itself (such as rendering pain), there are things that modern medicine and alternative medicine can do to help.
Scientists have found that when our body is exposed to less ultraviolet-B light, as in the fall or winter, it fails to produce sufficient amounts of Vitamin D. Yet Vitamin D is not only effective in bolstering our immune system but in keeping us feeling happy. The simplest way to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder is to take Vitamin D supplements from the beginning of fall through the end of winter, taking at least 1000mg or up to 4000mg.
Another reason for Seasonal Affective Disorder relates to our sleep cycle. Winter blues may occur when the length of the days is no longer in sync with our sleep. Though diurnal animals will be woken in nature by the sunrise and go to sleep with sunset, humans cannot alter their sleep cycle to accommodate shorter winter days. The winter blues phenomena than follows and can even turn into depression. Scientists have found that administration of melatonin (in the form of medication) will shift the rhythm of hormones responsible for the feeling of winter blues.
Most popular of all, perhaps, is the treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder with SAD lights, also termed Happy lights. Such light therapy seeks to supplement what nature lacks in winter. All SAD lights treat Seasonal Affective Disorder by emitting certain types of light. There are SAD Lights that emit a limited range blue or green light, or white lights that emit a full spectrum light. The latter have been found to be the most effective.
Today SAD Lights are commonly used in treating Seasonal Affective Disorder. By sitting or reading by a SAD light for 30 minutes to 1 hour a day, a person who suffers from winter blues will gradually start to feel better. SAD lights are also ideal for waking up in the morning. One of the most difficult aspects of Seasonal Affective Disorder involves dragging oneself out of bed in the dark morning, which still feels like the dark of night. By setting the alarm clock 30 minutes early and switching on the SAD light, a person can wake gradually in the healthy light of the lamp.
Some SAD lamps also come in combination with an alarm clock and turn on gradually, imitating the slow rise of actual sunrise. Such alarm clocks make no sound but rely on the body’s natural waking system to do the job.
Whatever method you decide to use for your symptoms of lethargy, sadness, fatigue or overeating, it’s best not to ignore Seasonal Affective Disorder is it can lead to weight gain, weakening of the immune system, depression and countless inter-personal altercations.
To learn more about valuable alternative medicine alternatives, discover 10 medicinal herbs for the elderly, and a guide to medicinal herbs for women from pregnancy to menopause
Mayo Clinic: Seasonal Affective Disorder
Wikipedia: Seasonal Affective Disorder