Don’t Be SAD Re­search sheds new light on treat­ments for Sea­sonal Af­fec­tive Dis­or­der.

Amazing Wellness - - CONTENTS - By Jen­nifer Martin

It is es­ti­mated that 10 mil­lion Amer­i­cans su er from it. SAD (sea­sonal a ec­tive dis­or­der) is char­ac­ter­ized by de­pres­sion that oc­curs (and tends to re­cur yearly) dur­ing the fall and win­ter months as sun­light wanes. Peo­ple with SAD may feel lethar­gic or ir­ri­ta­ble, sleep more than usual, or ex­pe­ri­ence changes in ap­petite such as an in­creased crav­ing for carbs. Dur­ing the spring and sum­mer months, the world looks brighter, lit­er­ally and fi gu­ra­tively, and they be­gin to feel more op­ti­mistic and en­er­getic. e dis­or­der can neg­a­tively a ect ma­jor as­pects of ev­ery­day life, in­clud­ing work and re­la­tion­ships. A few nat­u­ral treat­ment ap­proaches o er a ray of hope.


A 2017 study pub­lished in Psy­chi­a­try Jour­nal con­cluded that symp­toms of this form of win­ter de­pres­sion im­proved greatly with light room ther­apy, a treat­ment that has been prac­ticed in Swe­den for decades. Sub­jects sat in rooms lighted with fl uores­cent bulbs and painted in white/light col­ors for two hours daily on week­days, re­sid­ing com­fort­ably in arm­chairs in small groups read­ing, talk­ing, or just re­lax­ing. Light room ther­apy was found to re­sult in im­proved sleep, en­ergy, mood, ac­tiv­ity, and cog­ni­tive func­tion­ing.

ere is ev­i­dence that light ther­apy has an e ect on the brain sim­i­lar to an­tide­pres­sants. In a study pub­lished in 2016, 11 pa­tients with SAD treated with light ther­apy for two weeks ex­pe­ri­enced lower lev­els of “sero­tonin trans­porter bind­ing,” which re­sulted in in­creased lev­els of sero­tonin. In fact, their sero­tonin lev­els be­came sim­i­lar to those seen dur­ing the sum­mer months.

You can do light ther­apy treat­ment at home with a light box. How­ever, stay away from "full spec­trum" light­ing, says Emily Kane, ND, LAc, a natur­opath based in Juneau, Alaska, as the UV light may be harm­ful to your skin and eyes. “Choose ‘broad-spec­trum’ lights in­stead, which omit the UV, and fea­ture the heal­ing green wave­length,” says Kane. “e in­ten­sity of the light is what counts: go for 10,000 lux [a mea­sure of light in­ten­sity] from a light box, or in­stall four 2,500 lux bulbs in ex­ist­ing

xtures in the room where you’ll spend time in the early morn­ing.”


e hor­mone mela­tonin nor­mally rises in re­sponse to dark­ness and is sup­pressed with the light of morn­ing. How­ever, the shorter days of win­ter could cause our cir­ca­dian rhythms to fall out of sync with the ac­tual time of day. Mela­tonin works by help­ing to keep your bi­o­log­i­cal clock in a 24-hour rhythm. “For SAD, you usu­ally only need a small dose of mela­tonin—0.3 to 0.5 mil­ligrams,” says Tieraona Low Dog, MD, a lead­ing ex­pert in in­te­gra­tive medicine and au­thor of For­tify Your Life: Your Guide to Vi­ta­mins, Min­er­als and More. Low Dog rec­om­mends tak­ing it when it starts to

get dark.


Sev­eral stud­ies have shown a link be­tween low lev­els of vi­ta­min D, of­ten called “the sun­shine vi­ta­min,” and de­pres­sion. A 2015 study pub­lished in De­pres­sion Re­search and Treat­ment con­cluded that tak­ing high-dose vi­ta­min D could be an e ec­tive treat­ment for SAD. How­ever, re­searchers warn that ad­verse re­ac­tions

or in­tox­i­ca­tion, al­though rare, could oc­cur from doses of more than 50,000 IU per day. Re­cent

nd­ings lend sup­port to pre­ced­ing re­search as­so­ci­at­ing vi­ta­min D de ciency with de­pres­sion. A 2017 study pub­lished in the jour­nal PLoS One con­cluded that “vi­ta­min D de ciency was a signi cant pre­dic­tor of de­pres­sion” in pa­tients with chronic kid­ney dis­ease. Use 5,000–10,000 IU daily.


Rho­di­ola rosea is an adap­to­genic herb that helps the body bet­ter cope with bi­o­log­i­cal and phys­i­cal stres­sors. Rho­di­ola has been demon­strated to help those who su er with fa­tigue and de­pres­sion. is herb may help sup­port nor­mal en­ergy lev­els, im­proved phys­i­cal and men­tal per­for­mance, and healthy mood bal­ance. A 2015 study pit­ted rho­di­ola against the pop­u­lar an­tide­pres­sant Zoloft and a placebo. De­pres­sion scores of par­tic­i­pants tak­ing rho­di­ola were im­proved, al­though slightly lower than those tak­ing Zoloft, and rho­di­ola beat out the placebo. e side e ects of rho­di­ola were far fewer than those of Zoloft, and re­searchers con­cluded that rho­di­ola may “have a su­pe­rior risk-bene t pro le for those with mild or moder­ate de­pres­sive symp­toms.”


Stud­ies have shown St. John’s wort ex­tract (SJWE) to be very e ec­tive in re­duc­ing de­pres­sion scores in pa­tients with SAD. In one study, pa­tients were treated with 900 mg of SJWE daily, com­bined with ei­ther bright (3000 lux) or dim light (<300 lux) ther­apy. ere were signi cant re­duc­tions in de­pres­sion scores in both groups (72% and 60%, re­spec­tively), in­di­cat­ing that SJWE may o er sup­port to pa­tients with SAD—ei­ther alone or in com­bi­na­tion with light ther­apy.

Re­search shows tak­ing high-dose vi­ta­min D could be an ef­fec­tive treat­ment for SAD.

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