19 Home Remedies for SAD
Seasonal Affective Disorder, also called SAD, is a type of depression that lasts for months at a time. The depression usually starts and ends at the same time every year. The wintertime is the most common time for someone to suffer from SAD. This is because there is less sunlight out during the winter, which deprives people of natural vitamin D from sunlight. Keep reading to learn some natural home remedies for SAD.
The symptoms that come with SAD are similar to those of depression. The most common symptoms are having trouble sleeping and or eating; suicidal thoughts; loss of interests; low energy; feeling hopeless, helplessness, sluggish, worthless, and or guilty; feelings for depression just about all day almost every day.
Those are the overall symptoms. It is also possible to get SAD in the spring and summer or in the fall and winter. If you suffer from SAD in the spring and summer, then you might also suffer from loss of appetite, anxiety, insomnia, and easy annoyance.
If you suffer from SAD in the winter and fall on the other hand, then you might gain weight and crave food high in carbs; and sleep more than average while still having low energy.
There are three main causes of SAD. The first to consider, if you get SAD in the fall and winter, is a flux in your serotonin levels. When your brain is low on serotonin (which is a neurotransmitter that has to do with your mood) you can get depressed. Your levels in serotonin can drop because of a lack of sunlight.
Another reason might be that your circadian rhythm or your biological clock might be messed up. Again, because of the decreased hours in sunlight in the winter and fall, it can through off your sleep patterns and make you depressed.
The last best-known cause is low melatonin levels. Melatonin is the hormone that helps you to sleep. The change in the season can result in lower melatonin levels and therefore a lack of sleep and depression.
It should also be noted that there a couple of things can make it more likely for you to have SAD. If you already have bipolar disorder or depression, if you have a family history of depression and SAD, or if you have lived away from the equator can all increase your chances of having SAD.
Home Remedies for SAD
Go Outside More Often
When you are feeling depressed, getting up and outside can be one of the hardest things you might be able to imagine. However, when suffering from SAD, it is one of the best things you can do. Since SAD happens largely because of lack of sunlight, it is best to get back out into it. So whether you get out and shovel the driveway, talk three ten minutes walk or one half hour walk, play outside for a while, whatever, just get some sun.
Even More Sun
While inside, open the curtains and sit by the window. Filtered light is better than no light at all. If opening the curtains does not do all that much for you, you can install skylights to your home that can help even more.
The variations of vitamin B (make sure to include B6 and folic acid) can help you to combat depression. If you are already on an antidepressant, you might want to ask your doctor before take vitamin B supplements because they can make the pre-existing prescription stronger.
Fish and fish oil both have what is called omega-3 fatty acids. The omega-3 fatty acids balance out your hormone levels. It is suggested that you get 1,000 to 2,000 mg of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) a day.
Multiple studies and doctors say that exercise is one of the best things that you can do to fight depression. If you lift weights, that is great. However, if you jog outside when the weather allows or if you pick up a winter sport, then you get the added benefits of both the exercise and the sun.
Do Not Drink Alcohol
Alcohol is a natural depressant on its own and it can also increase anxiety. When suffering from SAD, drinking something that actively depresses you more is the last thing you need.
St. John’s Wort
St. John’s wort can do great things for helping your brain to build up more serotonin and works as a mild antidepressant. You can drink three classes of cold water with 40 to 60 drops of St. John’s wort tincture a day.
You should be mindful, though. If you are on a medication, ask your doctor about St. John’s wort because it affects the medications. The herb also makes the skin more sensitive so you might want to wear sunscreen despite it being winter.
Some sugar is okay, but too much can cause more harm than good. One of the effects of SAD is weight gain and getting a sugar hype might make you happy for a little while, but it can you feel even worse when it wears off.
As aforementioned, serotonin is something that helps to balance your mood. There are foods that you can eat that help to lift your serotonin levels. Some of those foods are cereals, grapes, oranges, pears, apricots, bouillon, apples, basmati rice, plums, and grapefruits.
Caffeine stops you from sleep. If your SAD is spiking insomnia, then you do not have a need for caffeine. If you enjoy the warmth of the drink, then you drop the caffeine addiction while still enjoying hot drinks. Instead of the coffee, bit up herbal teas or hot chocolate.
Take a Trip
If you live in a cold climate that does not get a lot of sun in the winter, then it might be in your best interest to use your Christmas and or Thanksgiving break from school or work to go some at least a little more warm a sunny. A change of scenery and some more sun might be just what you need.
If there is a craft, sport, club, or another hobby that you thought of picking up, do it. It gives you something to do, it can distract you, and making something or being part of a team can help to ease some the helplessness or worthlessness you might be feeling.
One way to combat SAD is through light therapy. If you don’t have the best insurance than it can be quite costly to do professionally. Luckily, there are light boxes that you can get which is sort of like the home version. You can also get special light bulbs that are made to help people with SAD.
f you do get a light box and not the special light bulbs, you want to make sure that you use it consistently for 15 to 30 minutes a day. Falling out of rhythm can make SAD worse again.
Vitamin D is also called the sunshine vitamin because of how long it has been used to fight off SAD and depression. Vitamin D is not just good for your depression, it can also build your immune system and keep your bones strong.
A dawn simulator is like a lightbox and an alarm clock all in one. You set it for a certain time and when the time comes, the dawn simulator makes a loud beeping sound or plays loud music (you pick the settings) and the light it produces slowly gets brighter.
A dawn simulator might be your best choice if you live in an area where the sun does not come up when you wake up the morning but comes up a couple hours later.
Aromatherapy is amazing for a number of things and can help you with most of the symptoms that come with SAD. It can help with anxiety, not being able to sleep or even sleeping too much, and the depression itself. It is even pretty easy to use.
There some oils that work better than others and you can blend a couple of different oils together for them to work together.
Lavender is best used for stress; grapefruit for helping to wake your brain up in the morning; ylang ylang for balancing hormones to limit the depression and mood swings; bergamot is good for balancing hormones, lessening mood swings, depression, and raising energy levels; basil for stress; orange for hormone balance, picking up your mood, and lowering your anxiety; roman chamomile for depression and anxiety as well as insomnia; jasmine for better sleep, anxiety, and depression; sandalwood for balancing your emotions, lessening your anxiety and depression, and help you to sleep.
As far as the blends go, you can make one for lifting your mood with five drops of lavender oil, two of geranium, and eight of grapefruit. You can make another to help you with stress by mixing four drops of orange oil, ten of sandalwood, and six of rose.
Keep a Journal
If you do not like the idea of talking to a therapist, then keeping a journal might be the next best thing. You can use it as a way to work out your thoughts and feelings or use it as a verbal kind of rant.
Tryptophan helps to make you tired by helping your body to make serotonin. Getting enough sleep is important, and there are foods you can enjoy that have tryptophan in them you can try bananas, milk, turkey, eggs, spinach, and seafood.
You might want to be mindful of the number of carbs you take in, but it is a good idea to get your full and complex carbs. Eating enough complex carb helps with the serotonin levels that keep your moods balanced. The reason why you want to be mindful of your carb intake is that one of the side effects of SAD and depression is added weight gain without really trying to gain it.
SAD can be quite serious. If you have suicidal thoughts or tendencies, do not hesitate to talk to your doctor. Whether you go for help from your friends and family or a psychiatrist, know that you do not have to go through SAD or depression by yourself. They can help to distract from your sad mood or they can look into the signs of it so they know what to look for with it and to get a better idea of how to help you.