Are you SAD during this holiday season? If you are, you may be surprised to discover that you are not alone. According to Dr. Andrew Weil, Seasonal Affective Disorder, or feeling “down”, usually during the late fall, winter, and early spring, happens in response to the decreased amount of sunlight. There is also a less common form of SAD that occurs in the summer. Dr. Weil notes that a significant number of people are affected by SAD: ” Between four percent and six percent of people in the United States are believed to suffer from SAD. Another 10 percent to 20 percent experiences a milder form of winter-onset SAD.”
Symptoms of SAD
If you suffer from SAD, especially during the shorter winter days, then you are likely to feel slow, lethargic, depressed, perhaps gain weight, and generally feel blue. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA): “A drop in levels of serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that affects mood, may play a role; reduced sunlight can cause serotonin levels to fall.” Dr. Weil notes that lack of vitamin D is also crucial.
Natural Solutions for SAD Symptoms
There are numerous natural solutions to SAD symptoms recommended by doctors and researchers, including Dr. Weil. These include:
- Light Therapy: Since the body is responding to decreased amounts of light each day, one solution is to sit in front of a special full spectrum light source for half an hour per day. This is reportedly useful for up to 80% of patients with SAD symptoms.
- Vitamin D: Dr. Weil notes that 70% of the U.S. population is low on vitamin D, the vitamin that comes most commonly from exposure to sunlight. Many physicians recommend a daily minimum dosage of 2000 IU of vitamin D per day to combat symptoms, but note that higher doses may be necessary.
- Sunlight in a Capsule: Many nutritional counselors have long suggested that people suffering from SAD take various forms of microalgae, especially AFA blue-green algae, because these microalgae literally capture sunlight through the process of photosynthesis. When humans ingest this form of microalgae, it is like taking a capsule of pure sunlight, with all the accompanying benefits. The core of AFA blue-green algae has also been linked to increased serotonin levels in the brain.
- B-vitamins: B6 and mutli-B vitamins can help boost mood during the darker days that can cause SAD symptoms.
- Fish Oil, Seaweed, and Microalgae: All of these are sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are important to emotional balance and brain function.
- Move Closer to the Equator: Although this might not be feasible, it is suggested if possible since the light from the sun is up to 13 times stronger than light from light boxes.
There are also a variety of healthy foods from which you can get enough vitamin D. The key message is that your body needs vitamin D to maintain a healthy physical, mental, and emotional balance. So if you feel SAD during the holiday season, check your vitamin D levels. If you really want to get detailed, get your doctor to prescribe a blood test, which is the only true way to gauge your levels of this crucial vitamin. Best of all, when you do get balanced levels of vitamin D and perhaps change a few lifestyle and eating habits, you will feel much jollier this holiday season!
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