Stand Up to S.A.D!


Do you ever feel sluggish, tired or depressed when fall arrives and it gets darker earlier? Seasonal affective disorder, also known as S.A.D. or seasonal depression, affects about 10 million Americans. It is a depression that is triggered by biochemical imbalances in the brain that are caused by lack of sunshine and daylight. Seratonin, melotonin and vitamin D are the main biological imbalances linked to the disorder. It usually occurs in the fall and winter months. Women are 4 times as likely to experience S.A.D. than men. 

S.A.D. Symptoms 

Here are some symptoms to look out for in yourself and those around you that are linked with seasonal depression: 

  • Loss of energy 
  • Carb cravings 
  • Trouble concentrating 
  • Change in sleep, typically sleeping more
  • Loss of interest in enjoyable activities and hobbies 
  • Social withdrawal
  • Weight gain

Preventing & dealing with S.A.D.

Sure, we can’t control the sun and make the days longer but there are options to help take control of how you feel and make those gloomy months more bearable.  

Spend time outside each day: even on a cloudy day some daylight will get through. Set up a walking ritual after you get off work or make an effort to eat outside on your lunch break. 

Eat well: a balanced diet can help with just about anything! Keep getting those vitamins and minerals in. This will help you avoid the carb cravings associated with seasonal depression. May I suggest a yummy CHOP5 salad with vitamin D packed mushrooms.

Speak with a mental health professional: cognitive behavior therapy has been proven to help people cope with seasonal depression. They may also recommend a common type of anti-depressant called SSRIs.

Light therapy: there are special light therapy boxes for this particular disorder. You sit in front of the light box for 20+ minutes a day during dreary months. Treatment typically occurs in the morning. Improvements in mood can occur as quickly as 1 week into light therapy. Click here for some examples of light therapy boxes. 

Exercise: we all know exercise is a mood booster. Aim for 30 minutes a day, 3 days a week. 

Stay social: make an effort to get out and about. Set a salad lunch date with your fav pal every Wednesday. Make Friday game nights. It can be hard to force yourself to be social when you’re down in the dumps but it really is worth it. 

Vitamin D supplements: the research on supplemental vitamin D is mixed and it is recommended to use this in conjunction with the above recommendations. Speak with a doctor before starting a supplement. 

As someone who is a part of that 10 million statistic, I have found a combination of these methods helps me make it through the sunshine-less times. Make sure you take care of yourself and those around you during the cooler half of the year. It is important to take care of your mind and body. Email me at abbyp@chop5.com if you have any other methods that help you stay positive during fall/winter. I would love to hear it. Come see your CHOP5 fam for a mood boost and a nutritious meal if you need it. Make sure you chop well, live well, and feel well.