News ID: 259676
Published: 1028 GMT October 04, 2019

Natural treatments that can help with seasonal affective disorder

Natural treatments that can help with seasonal affective disorder
ELLA BYWORTH/metro.co.uk

Now October is in full swing, the days are slowly getting darker and colder — which is enough to make anyone feel a little gloomy. But for some people, the winter weather means more than feeling a little down in the dumps.

Seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD, is a type of depression that occurs during a particular time in the year. It can happen during the summer months, but most people experience it in the winter. According to the NHS website, the condition can also be known as ‘winter depression’ and symptoms can include persistent low mood, loss of appetite, irritability, lacking in energy and sleeping for longer than usual, metro.co.uk reported.

Anyone struggling to cope with SAD should consult their GP. But for those with milder symptoms, there are a number of natural remedies that can help. A few simple lifestyle changes could help make those winter months a lot easier.

 

Natural sunlight

 

Natural light may be limited during the winter months but anyone with SAD should try to get outside as much as possible.

Exposure to daylight is thought to increase the brain’s release of the ‘feel-good’ chemical serotonin, which not only boosts moods but also promotes calmness.

Around midday is when the sun is the brightest — so why not pop out for a quick walk around the block during your lunch break?

Alternatively, if you’re inside all day, try sitting near a window to soak up as much sunshine as possible. Planning holidays to warmer climates during the colder months might also be something to consider.

 

Light box therapy

 

During the winter months, there’s a distinct lack of sun. So people who suffer with SAD are advised to get their hands on a light box.

They work by mimicking sunshine with high strength bulbs, prompting chemical changes in the brain to help improve an individual’s mood.

It’s thought that the light may encourage the brain to reduce the production of melatonin — the hormone which makes you feel tired. People with SAD may produce more of this than normal.

 

Exercise

 

Getting active kills two birds with one stone. Exercise releases endorphins, which are hormones that reduce pain and increase feelings of well-being. But working out also increases an individual’s metabolism, which can help improve energy levels.

When it comes to activities, some are better than others for treating SAD. Low-impact aerobic activities such as walking are recommended. Other calming activities to try include yoga, swimming and stretching. As little as 10 minutes a day can really help.

 

Vitamin D supplements

 

This particular vitamin is made by skin after being exposed to sunlight and it’s thought to play a role in serotonin activity.

Those with SAD have been found to produce less of the vitamin — so this is where supplements can help.

Vitamin D is also great for bone and immune system health as well as reducing inflammation. It’s a great all-rounder for general wellbeing.

 

B vitamins

 

B vitamins help convert the protein from your diet into neurotransmitters and these have a direct impact on energy levels, brain function, and cell metabolism. They’re also crucial for the production of serotonin — a neurotransmitter that helps to put us in a good mood.

So it’s simple, incorporating B Vitamins into your diet can help to regulate mood and anxiety levels. Those looking to include more B Vitamins should stock up on fish, shellfish, nutritional yeast and dark leafy vegetables such as romaine lettuce and spinach.

 

Omega 3

 

Some studies have found that fatty acids can be beneficial in treating mild to moderate depression — but it’s worth stressing more research in this area is needed.

In particular, two omega 3 fatty acids — called eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) — are thought to be the most beneficial to people with SAD. Cold water fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel are high in Omega 3, as well as nuts and seeds.

   
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