Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD, is a type of depression that happens during the same time each year. While it can happen at any time of year, it is most often associated with Fall and Winter (you’ve heard the term winter blues, right?) This is due to lack of sunlight which of course results in a Vitamin D deficiency, it’s getting darker sooner which throws off your internal clock, remaining indoors due to cooler or bad weather (hello cabin fever!) and what I call a “lack of an interesting landscape”; in other words everything lacks the color, vibrancy and fragrances of the warmer months.
I’m bringing this up because in the last few days I kept remarking to my husband, “I feel so tired all the time,” and “I feel like I have no energy,” and wanting to eat every carb in sight. Personally, nothing has changed for me to bring this on. I’m very happily married, am passionate about my career, enjoy my sons and so on. He then brought it to my attention that since the weather has gotten colder, I’ve been outdoors less; it’s getting darker earlier, etc. And then it clicked. During the days of getting my degree in Psychology, I had learned about SAD and recognized the symptoms.
Beginning to feel the same as I am? Here is a SAD check list (as listed by the MAYO Clinic):
Loss of energy
Heavy, “leaden” feeling in the arms or legs
Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
While it is always recommended to talk to your doctor, there are some things you can do to help combat Seasonal Affective Disorder at home.
Hydro Chromotherapy: Light therapy has been used for a while to combat SAD. I love light therapy incorporated with the relaxation of water. Whereas some hydro chromotherapy systems can be very expensive, there are others that simply involve LED Showerheads that are completely affordable. Prices do range from under $10 to upwards of $150. (Plus it may encourage your kids to actually want to bathe.)
Aromatherapy: The power of scent can be mood altering. You know this the moment you walk into a spa, light a candle in your home or apply your favorite perfume. Bergamot, frankincense, geranium, chamomile, lavender, marjoram and citrus-derived oils are the most effective for treating SAD. There are some amazing products out there now that add essential oils to your shower head, as well. Essio uses essential oil pods that attach to your shower head, while Elixator uses a shower system. While you shouldn’t attempt to wash your hair while the oils are being dispersed, it’s just another great way to lift your mood (and soften your skin in the process!)
Exercise: A great way to boost serotonin and dopamine levels is with daily exercise. If you can get outside and enjoy the Fall/Winter landscape, even better, as you take in some Vitamin D in the process.
Phototherapy at the spa: It’s obvious, I truly believe that the spa is more than just a place of escape, but a necessity for a more balanced mind. Many spas offer phototherapy and are worth booking a treatment for!
Have you ever suffered from SAD? What tips would you offer?