Seasonal Affective Disorder refers to a depression disorder, which affects an individual at the same time each year. It is more frequently observed during the months of winter. Epidemiological estimates suggest that about 5% of the adult population suffers from this condition. However, almost 20% of adults, experience this condition at some point in their lives.
What Causes Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Scientists suggest that this is linked with the reduced exposure to sun, during winters. Exposure to sunlight is essential to maintain a harmonious internal rhythm. Exposure to sunlight also promotes the production of a hormone called serotonin (or the feel good hormone). During winters, reduced sunlight disrupts the internal rhythm and drops the production of serotonin. This is considered to create a feeling of gloom and depression.
Interestingly this condition is temporary in nature and usually resolves with the advent of spring. Physicians don’t recommend the use of antidepressants to treat this temporary condition. This is primarily since the use of anti-depressants may be associated with side effects which include sexual and sleep related problems, drowsiness, nausea, etc.
How To Cure Seasonal Affective Disorder Naturally?
Here are some simple lifestyle tips and natural remedies that can help deal with SAD. It is recommended that you use a combination of these tips/ remedies for effective relief,
- Scientists suggest that during winters, the production of the hormone melatonin (the hibernation hormone) increases, which in turn reduces body temperatures and leads to drowsiness. Production of melatonin increases when you spend most of the day in darkness. Going out in the sun or ensuring a minimum exposure of four hours every day will limit the production of melatonin, make you more active and alleviate feeling of gloom and depression.
- Eat cereals, oranges, bananas, raw honey and tryptophan rich foods which help boost mood. Avoid carbohydrates as they reduce the level of serotonin (or the feel good hormone).
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine. Caffeine can trigger muscle tension, anxiety and result in gastrointestinal problems, while alcohol itself lowers your mood. Opt for herbal or green tea without caffeine.
- Outdoor exercises or sports can help stimulate metabolism in the body and alleviate the feeling of depression.
- St John’s Wort is an effective herbal remedy to deal with anxiety, nervousness and depression. Reports have suggested that the herb is effective in dealing with mild to moderate forms of depression. It is considered to be as effective as SSRI’s and has fewer side effects. Consult your physician for details on dosage and frequency.
- Essential oils and aromatherapy are considered very beneficial to deal with depression. Essential oils can be added to the bathing water or can be inhaled or massaged on the body. Lavender, Chamomile and Ylang ylang are effective aroma oils to deal with depression.
- Passiflora incarnate is another herb which is effective to deal with anxiety and insomnia. This herb increases the levels of gamma-Aminobutyric acid and instills relaxation.
- Yoga postures namely cow pose, cat pose and dog pose can help alleviate the mood and fight depression.
- Meditation coupled with deep breathing can help calm the nerves and allow you to focus on your inner self. This helps get rid of the clutter in life and reduces gloom and depression.
- Homeopathic drugs namely Aurum Met and Lycopodium help deal with depression and anxiety.