It’s more than saying ‘goodbye’ to the warm nights of summer or dreading the presence of snow-covered roads – seasonal depression (also known as seasonal affective disorder or SAD) is a condition that occurs at the same time each year. Contrary to popular belief, the winter season isn’t the only time of the year that brings on this bout of melancholy. However, if you believe you may encounter this type of depression on a yearly basis – you may want to consider some of home remedies listed below for seasonal depression.
Table of Contents
- What is Seasonal Depression?
- Symptoms of Seasonal Depression
- Risk Factors of Seasonal Depression
- Home Remedies for Seasonal Depression
What is Seasonal Depression?
Seasonal depression is a type of depression that typically begins in the fall or winter season and ends in the springtime or early summer. While we may all get a bit down with the lack of daylight hours or dreary weather conditions, this condition goes beyond the simple case of the “winter blues.” In addition to winter depression, some people also encounter a rare form of seasonal affective disorder that takes place in the late spring or early summertime, ending in the fall.
The exact cause of seasonal depression is unknown, but drastic changes in sunlight levels have been a suspected culprit. One theory associated with the condition is that decreased exposure to sunlight can cause the regulation of mood, sleep, and hormones (the job of the biological clock) to shift into a delayed mode. This is generally seen in the wintertime when the amount of light we see during the day has decreased.
Another theory involves chemicals in the brain (called neurotransmitters), which are responsible for transferring information between nerves. Some researchers believe that patients with SAD show altered levels of these chemicals, such as serotonin.
Symptoms of Seasonal Depression
People suffering from seasonal depression exhibit many of the same signs associated with depression, such as sadness, anxiety, excessive sleep, lack of enjoyment, and increased moodiness. Heightened fatigue, decreased energy, and sleepiness may also occur. An individual may additionally crave for carbohydrates, display an increased appetite, or experience changes in their weight.
Specific seasonal symptoms include :
a) Winter Seasonal Depression:
weight gain, increased appetite and craving for ‘comfort foods,’ difficulty concentrating, increased desire to be alone, and lowered energy levels
b) Summer Seasonal Depression:
weight loss, trouble sleeping, and decreased appetite
Risk Factors of Seasonal Depression
It is estimated that between 4% and 6% of the population in the United States suffers from seasonal depression with about 10% to 20% encountering a more mild type of winter blues. While the majority of sufferers are women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, children and teenagers also suffer from SAD.
An individual’s susceptibility to seasonal depression is usually influenced by where they live. Seasonal depression is more commonly seen in patients that reside in geographic locations with high latitudes (meaning they dwell farther north or south from the equator). When seasonal changes are more extreme in their region, they face a higher risk for SAD. Locations, such as Washington, DC, Florida, and Alaska see their fair share of seasonal affective disorder cases.
Home Remedies for Seasonal Depression
a) Well-Balanced Diet:
Keeping in line with FDA recommendations, receiving a sufficient amount of vitamins and minerals can create more energy to help you combat the food cravings that often accompany SAD.
b) Increase Your Outdoor Time:
Every day, make sure you step outside of your home – even if it’s cloudy or gloomy. Just a small amount of daylight is beneficial.
There are plenty of ways to combat the effects of seasonal depression that strikes in the wintertime by increasing the amount of lighting in your home. Popular options include:
• Constructing a Light Box: Combat winter depression associated with seasonal affective disorder by constructing a specialized lighting fixture called a light box for at-home therapy. Square in shape – this contraption is slightly larger than a briefcase and stands upright on a table or desk.
• Full Spectrum Lightbulbs: When exhibiting mild symptoms, you should consider outfitting your regular lamps with full spectrum (daylight) bulbs to increase the amount of daylight your home enjoys during the winter months.
• At-Home Therapy Lighting Features: Some individuals have successfully treated their SAD by utilizing devices that create specialized workstations, dawn simulators, or head-mounted visors. If you are interested – keep in mind that costs often range between $200 and $500.
• Daily Light Therapy: Increase the amount of bright lights in the rooms you use the most in your home. A difference is felt when rooms are flooded with bright (yet not harsh) lighting. It is important to note that directly staring into bright lights can cause damage to your eyes.
d) Keep Moving:
Don’t forget to maintain or add at least 30 minutes of exercise per day – three times a week.
e) Alarm Clock Settings:
Embracing a sleep routine with regular bedtimes can assist you in taking advantage of the mental health benefits that come with daytime light. Remember that the best morning light is delivered between 6am and 8am.
f) Brisk Walk at Dawn:
In Switzerland, research concluded that seasonal affective disorder patients benefited from outdoor walks lasting 30 minutes at sunrise. The exercise, sunlight, and possibly even the colder temperatures are thought to produce favorable effects.
Seasonal depression research conducted at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston has revealed that specific meditations associated with yoga can work wonders on the pineal gland, which plays a part in controlling circadian and seasonal rhythms. It is recommended to jumpstart your day with yoga in order to take advantage of its energizing effects and stress-relieving results.
h) Vitamin C Supplements:
Stock up on vitamin C supplements and consume foods (like oranges and lemons), which provide access to this known antidepressant.
There is a theory that a certain form of vitamin D found in milk called soltriol may assist people to keep in sync with the sun. It is believed that soltriol may trigger the release of hormones that stimulate the body into keeping body clocks on track.
j) Let the Sun Shine In:
Make sure to open the curtains or pull up the shades in your bedroom, as well as spend time in the sunniest rooms of your home.