Seasonal depression or "Seasonal Affective Disorder" (SAD) is a type of depression that recurs on a seasonal basis. Mostly this occurs in the winter months and is more prevalent in hemispheres with significantly less light or worse weather during winter. Scientists believe reduced exposure to sunlight, an increased production of Melatonin, a lower level of Serotonin and a change in the body's internal clock (circadian rhythm) are what cause SAD.
3 Tips to Fight Seasonal Depression (SAD):
1. Get More Vitamin D.
Studies have linked low Vitamin D levels with seasonal depression. One of the main sources of Vitamin D for most of us? Sunshine! So when we don't have it, one option is to supplement.
2. Use a Light Box.
Lack of sunlight is a major culprit of seasonal depression especially in regions that get darker than others in winter months. There are many to choose from and these devices are getting better and better at mimicking the affects of the Sun on our bodies. All you need is to sit in front of one for 30 minutes a day. Most choose to do so in the mornings which also helps set a better sleep and waking up cycle (circadian rhythm).
3. Use Aromatherapy.
A growing body of therapists support aromatherapy as treatment techniques to access emotions, repressed memories and stressors in our brains due to the link between our sense of smell and memory. It has also been shown to have positive effects on depression and anxiety. High quality essential oils such as sweet orange, lavender, sage, or bergamont can help in treating SAD.
Tip: Plan ahead! If you are going to order a lightbox for light therapy during winter months; do it during fall, spring or summer! Last year they were hard to get due to high demand and not enough supply in winter months.
References: Terman M, Terman JS, Quitkin FM, McGrath PJ, Stewart JW, Rafferty B. Light therapy for seasonal affective disorder. A review of efficacy. Neuropsychopharmacology. 1989;2(1):1-22. doi:10.1016/0893-133x(89)90002-x