You start off excited for the changing seasons. Taking walks to look at the explosion of colors, enjoying all the wonderful seasonal foods like squash and apples, and getting ready for the holiday season.
But then everything changes. You start to feel tired and dragged out. Your brain feels cloudy, you sleep more and more, and you may start to feel a little bit sad. Don’t let the dark weather darken your mood. Whether you suffer from depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder, or just feel a little down, here are a few tips that can naturally help you beat it.
How to Beat Seasonal Depression Naturally
1. Light Therapy
The idea behind light therapy is pretty simple: essentially, you’re using artificial light as a substitute for diminishing sunlight to get vitamin D. This can reprogram your circadian rhythms for the rest of the year.
Of course, if you have access to natural light, then we highly recommend going outside for a walk instead! A little bit of exercise and sunlight will go a long way in naturally improving your mood. However, if that’s not possible, then by using a light therapy box daily for as little as 20-30 minutes, you may be able to elevate your mood. This can reduce the effects of seasonal depression and affective disorder.
- Easy: Just sit in front of a light therapy box for 20-30 minutes when you wake up (10,000 lux is the recommended strength according to the Mayo Clinic).
- Safe: The types of light therapy boxes used to beat seasonal depression do not contain harmful UV rays, and should be naturally safe for most people – provided you follow the instructions of your light therapy device. As with any other treatment, you should talk to your doctor first.
- Natural: No pills, no chemicals — just light!
- Time-consuming: Light therapy requires at least 20 minutes every day. Additionally, it works best when you always do it at the same time, which can be inconvenient on busy mornings.
- Some possible side effects: Light therapy is generally not recommended for bipolar disorder sufferers, as it can contribute to mania. It can also cause side effects such as eye strain, headaches, and nausea — particularly for people with eye conditions.
If light isn’t your thing, well there’s evidence that Vitamin D supplements may help treat seasonal depression and affective disorder as well. Especially in patients with low vitamin D (an estimated 40% of Americans have a Vitamin D deficiency). While results have been inconsistent, there have been promising results. In one study, a single 100,000 I.U. dose of vitamin D seemed to give better results in improving depression than a month of light therapy.
Other Natural Ways to get Vitamin D
You would need to eat A LOT of the following:
Egg yolks, Beef liver, Fish
- Safe: For most adults, Vitamin D is safe in daily doses up to 4,000 I.U.
- Health benefits: In addition to possibly improving seasonal depression and SAD, vitamin D has a range of health benefits, including helping prevent certain kinds of cancer, warding off dementia and preventing osteoporosis.
- Interactions: Vitamin D may have harmful interactions with a range of medications, including certain steroids, stimulant laxatives, blood pressure drugs, and anticonvulsants. Check with your doctor before you take it.
- Dosage: High doses of vitamin D can cause a range of side effects for some people. However, if you have low vitamin D levels, higher doses may be warranted. It’s a good idea to have your doctor determine the right dose for you.
Exercise plays an important role in regulating mood. Intense exercise releases endorphins, which can cause you to feel high. But according to the Harvard Medical School, a more important benefit is the release of neurotrophic growth factor, which spurs growth and creates new connections between neurons.
- It’s good for you: The benefits of exercise are too numerous to discuss here fully. Suffice it to say, it will help you live a longer, healthier life.
- Requires no investment: While you may want to join a gym or take some classes at some point, all most people need to get started exercising is a pair of tennis shoes and some loose-fitting clothes.
- It’s hard to get started: With severe depression, it can be very hard to start new habits, even if you know they’ll make you feel better in the long run.
- It may not show quick results: It may take several weeks to improve your mood with exercise.
CBD is useful in treating many of the symptoms of seasonal depression, such as anxiety, sleep disturbances, and fatigue. The way CBD works in the brain isn’t completely understood but is believed to work through the brain’s endocannabinoid system, which helps regulate mood, appetite, sleep, reproduction and a number of other systems. Endocannabinoid receptors are present both in the central and peripheral nervous system and may be responsible for CBD’s other benefits, such as pain relief.
- Safe: CBD is safe for most people.
- Natural: CBD is a natural extract of the cannabis plant, and available without artificial additives.
- Comes in a wide variety of formats: CBD comes in oral sprays, powder drink packets, tinctures, unprocessed hemp flowers, vape pens, edible CBD gummies, and a variety of other forms. That makes it easy to find a version that works for you.
- Some side effects: CBD may cause drowsiness, irritability, dry mouth or other minor side effects in some people.
- Contraindications: CBD may have harmful interactions with a few drugs, such as the blood thinner Warfarin. Check with your doctor before using it.
If you think feeling down in the dumps may actually be something more, maybe what you are experiencing is Season Affective Disorder. All the tips above could be a great natural complement to improve and help fight Season Affective Disorder.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that recurs or worsens around the same time every year. For most people, SAD starts in fall or winter and persists until spring or summer. However, there are people with the opposite pattern. If you suffer from SAD, you’re not alone; an estimated 10 million Americans suffer serious Seasonal Affective Disorder, with up to 20 percent of the population suffering from a milder form.
Like other forms of depression, SAD can vary greatly. You may feel sluggish and dull, or on-edge and agitated. You might sleep all the time, or have trouble getting to sleep at all. Perhaps you might lose your appetite, or eat more impulsively. Or you may have bleak or even suicidal thoughts and just feel listless and numb. And if you normally suffer from depression, you’re likely to see your symptoms worsen.
What Causes Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Like other forms of depression, seasonal affective disorder is complex, and therefore it is not fully understood how to beat and treat it. Many of the suspected causes of SAD have to do with how the changes in daylight affect circadian rhythms — the natural rhythms that regulate the body’s sleep and wake cycle. People naturally produce more melatonin when there’s less sunlight, but SAD sufferers may produce too much, causing lethargy and sleep irregularities.
Serotonin — a neurotransmitter affecting mood — may also be a factor. The brains of SAD sufferers appear to have less available serotonin in winter. This is a situation that can be exacerbated by low vitamin D levels. Living far from the equator, where the winter is darker, also worsens the condition.
Other factors involved in depression also affect SAD specifically. For example, if you have family members who have suffered from depression or bipolar disorder, you’re more likely to develop SAD.
Our Natural Supplements to Beat your Seasonal Depression
Ready to try CBD, but unsure where to start? At Heally, we carry a variety of quality CBD products to meet your needs and improve your mood. Here are some recommended products:
Enjoy a delicious blueberry gummy with the added benefit of 50mg of CBD to help bring you to your baseline.
These drink packets are microencapsulated for increased bioavailability and are extremely easy to consume. Just add them to water, your favorite drink, or smoothie.