By Dr. Marianne Marchese, ND
Fall and winter are wonderful times of the year. The leaves change color, the football season is underway, and the days are often warm with the evenings cool. However, not everyone looks forward to the change of seasons because it means less sunshine. It gets dark earlier, and some experience mild changes in mood. Some people experience less energy, fatigue, a change in eating or sleeping patterns. If you are one of these people, you may suffer from season affective disorder.
Seasonal affective disorder (also called SAD) is a type of depression that follows the seasons. The most common type of SAD is called winter depression. It usually begins in late fall or early winter and goes away by spring. SAD may be related to changes in the amount of daylight during different times of the year. It may be more common than you think; as many as 6 of every 100 people in the United States may have winter depression. Another 10% to 20% may experience mild SAD.
Common symptoms of winter depression include:
- A change in appetite- a craving for sugar and carbs
- Weight gain
- A drop in energy level
- A tendency to oversleep
- Difficulty concentrating
- Increased sensitivity to social rejection
- Avoidance of social situations
There are many natural treatment options, including diet and nutrition, herbs, and supplements. Nutrition and exercise are crucial components. Eating an organic whole foods diet ensures an adequate intake of nutrients that affect brain chemistry. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables throughout the day, whole grains, and fish will ensure you get the nutrients you need. Avoiding foods that cause mood fluctuations such as refined carbohydrates, sugar, caffeine, and alcohol is also important.
Exercise is particularly helpful in improving moods. Exercise increases endorphins in the body, which bind to receptors in the brain that are known to improve mood. Brisk walking 30 minutes a day four to five times a week is all that is required for the positive benefits of exercise.
Herbal treatments that are reliable for improving seasonal affective disorder symptoms include nervine herbs, mood enhancer herbs, and hormone balancing herbs. Another group of herbs worth considering is adrenal tonics. Adrenal herbs help regulate cortisol levels, which is essential to your health and wellbeing. It is important to first do a blood test for adrenal hormones to determine if levels are out of balance.
Balancing Your Hormones Can Help Combat Sad. Download Our Free Happy Hormones at Home Guide for More Tips on How to Balance Your Hormones Naturally.
Natural supplements are effective for treating SAD and include Vitamin-D and B vitamins if a person is low in these nutrients. Supplements supporting serotonin may be helpful because they can be extremely useful in restoring normal behavior, feeling, and thought processes by increasing serotonin levels. A simple blood test can determine your levels of vitamins, minerals, and neurotransmitters. You may only need these nutrients if you have an actual deficiency. Often IV therapy is the best approach for replacing nutrient deficiencies quickly. Ask Dr. Marchese if IV therapy is right for you.
Dr. Marchese is a naturopathic physician and author of 8 Weeks to Women’s Wellness. She was named in Phoenix Magazine’s Top Doctor Issue as one of the top naturopathic physicians. She treats men and women of all ages using botanical medicine, bio-identical hormones, homeopathy, detoxification, IV therapy, Chelation, microcurrent, diet, exercise, stress management, and lifestyle changes. Her goal is to empower patients to play an active role in their health care and wellbeing.
If you would like more tips and advice on natural methods to reduce symptoms of SAD, schedule a free brief meet and greet with one of our doctors by calling 480-588-6856.