Written by Dr. Sandra Miranda, ND
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or “winter blues” is a type of depression that affects many people during the late fall and winter when the hours of daylight grow short. It is estimated that millions of Canadians, especially women struggle with this.
What are the signs? Weight gain, lower energy levels with a strong desire to “hibernate” and inability to focus.
Years ago, as a Naturopathic Doctor, I met a young woman Susan with everything going right in her life. She had recently graduated with a master’s degree in Business Administration, was promoted to director in her dream field and was engaged to a supportive partner. She confessed to be that she thought she was very sick, she was worried that she had cancer or something because she knew she should be over-the-moon happy, but she was so tired it took all her strength to get out of bed, go to work and then come home… she just wanted it to end.
Susan is still here, married and working in her dream job! She had bad seasonal affective disorder caused by a nutrient and hormonal imbalance. We ran labs and one of the main things that we found was a critically low vitamin D levels. Low Vitamin D is one of the reasons for seasonal affective disorder. Susan started taking vitamin D and changed her honeymoon to a sunny tropical location!
With so many of my patients struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder and its side effects I have devised a few simple steps to help them every fall and winter. I will share those simple suggestions with you:
1. Exercise: Mover your body daily. It does not have to be training for a triathlon, but some movement will help. Get the blood moving in the body and taking deep breaths helps make feel good hormones naturally. Participating in group exercise classes imparts a sense of community and fights feelings of isolation.
2. Invest in a happy light or other form of light-box therapy. Light boxes or full spectrum lighting or “blues bulbs” are widely available (Amazon and Hardware stores, etc.) and inexpensive. The light should be used at first awakening for 20 to 30 minutes. The position of the light should be above your head or at a 45 degree angle to avoid looking at it directly and also to mimic the position of the sun. I suggest daily use during winter.
3. See your naturopathic doctor and for a thorough functional check up to see if your vitamin D levels and other hormones are off balance. Vitamin D is made during the sunny months of the year and since we live our lives inside and in front of computers many people have low reserves going into the fall and winter. Optimizing you vitamin D levels have benefits beyond fighting depression.
Say “Not this year” to Seasonal Affective Disorder and enjoy the feeling of waking rested, having all day energy not having to figure out how to diet away the winter weight gain.
For more help us call us for an appointment today – 905-239-3900