Friday, March 29, 2013

Feeling SAD? How To Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder

Do you feel blah as the winter weather seems to continue on into spring? Staring out at the dreary sky, snow-covered streets, and drab-colored shrubs, and feeling like you just want to bury yourself under the covers all day?

The feeling isn’t unusual and isn’t just in your head. Seasonal Affective Disorder – or “SAD” – affects at least 20% of Americans. Women seem particularly afflicted, reporting three-quarters of the cases.

SAD tends to come on as winter approaches, and can last while days are short and sunlight scarce. Symptoms include listlessness, oversleeping, gaining weight, and feeling … well … sad.
If you think you might be afflicted, mention it to your doctor. Here are some of the common treatments your doctor might recommend:
  1. Light Therapy -- To gain back some of the sunshine and light that naturally boosts mood (but is in short supply for many in the winter), many patients use light therapy. It’s the most widely used SAD treatment. The special lamps (about the size of a notepad) are available without a prescription, and are sometimes covered by insurance if your doctor recommends it. They can be propped on a table, and are now made with bulbs that do not include ultraviolet (UV) light but offer high enough power to mimic sunlight. The light is thought to increase the amount of serotonin and mood-boosters in your brain.
  2. Antidepressants -- Your doctor also might recommend antidepressants and psychotherapy, which can be used alongside light therapy or alone.
If your doctor has said you have a milder case of SAD, you might find relief with these natural solutions:
  1. Exercise -- Yep, it’s true. Moving your muscles and limbs can help relieve symptoms of SAD, along with anxiety and stress. You’ll get even more out of it if you can time your exercise with  sunlight and exercise outdoors.
  2. Healthy carbs -- Many people who experience SAD crave carbs like bread and baked goods because carbs tend to trigger the “feel-good” serotonin in our brains. Unfortunately, many of the carbs we crave are not good for us and can lead to poor health and weight gain, which makes us feel even worse. Instead, when that carb craving hits, go for healthy carbs such as fruits, vegetables, brown rice and legumes. They should satisfy your body’s craving but keep you healthier in the process.
The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only and is not, nor is it ever intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice or professional recommendations, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician(s) or other qualified healthcare provider(s).

Laurie Sanchez is a writer and editor at, a website devoted to women’s health, where she disperses daily health tips about fibro, depression and other conditions. Read more depression therapies at Lifescript’s new online Depression Health Center.

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