SAD, better known to some as seasonal affective disorder, affects thousands of people yearly. Many of the people affected do not even know that they actually suffer from a diagnosable condition and merely assume they have the "winter blues".
Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (S A D)
The signs and symptoms of seasonal affective disorder can differ from one person to the next and in many instances the symptoms can appear as those of many other forms of depression. Some of the symptoms that may be noticed are:
- excessive sleeping
- weight gain (often due to cravings for unhealthy food)
- lack of motivation or energy
Most of the symptoms seen above often appear in the colder winter months and dissipate come spring or warmer seasons. With other forms of depression, though there may be some decrease in symptoms, the effects are often continuous even through seasonal changes.
Treating SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder: Alternative and Home Remedies
There are several things you can try at home to treat the effects or symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. These treatments include incorporating "mood" foods into your diet. Mood foods are not always necessarily about the "food" but more so about what the food contains such as specific vitamins, nutrients and minerals.
For depression sufferers folic acid is something that should be a part of your regular diet. Folic acids can be found in foods such as spinach and whole grain cereals or lentils and is considered a mood food because of its ability to help sustain normal levels of serotonin which is vital to healthy brain function.
A food or treat that you are probably hoping to see on the list is chocolate. The effects of chocolate are often temporary but it is known to help by promoting the release of hormones (serotonin and endorphins) which provide a mild energy boost that help you to naturally feel happy and relaxed.
Pineapple is another food that could be beneficial to sufferers of seasonal affective disorder or any type of depression. Pineapple contains manganese and thiamin both of which helped turn cards into much-needed energy that is often lacking in depression sufferers.
Whey protein is something else that should not be neglected in your diet regimen. It has been shown that whey protein can naturally help fight stress and anxiety. This little anxiety fighter can be found in food items such as milk and other dairy products.
Oatmeal is not only a healthy breakfast food it is also a food that can help you to fight the effects or to counteract the effects of depression. It is actually the carbs in the oatmeal that help release the relaxing hormone-serotonin.
What to Eliminate from Your Diet
sometimes it's not about what you add to your diet that what you removed from it that can make a difference in your mood and energy levels.
Caffeine is an all too regular part of most people's diets. In moderation it is not a bad thing, necessarily but when intake borders excessive there can be negative consequences such as insomnia or difficulty sleeping and nausea.
Alcohol, much like caffeine, can affect normal sleep process which in turn can lead to poor moods, lack of energy and even unnecessary anxiety.
Foods high in saturated fats as well as big meals should also be avoided as they take longer to digest which could lead to lack of energy and even lethargy.
Sunlight: Simulators and Stimulators
Light therapy is an up and coming treatment for SAD sufferers. In recent years light therapy, often found in the form of photo therapy boxes, light boxes or bright light boxes, has been being used to counter and overcome the symptoms brought on by seasonal affective disorder.
In laymen terms light -boxes are designed to simulate natural sunlight. There are several different styles of light boxes that can be used as treatment for SAD. Some styles or brands will use brighter lights and offer different designs than others. To choose the one that works best is important that one does a little research and tests them (if possible) before making a purchase.
Choosing the Light Box that's Right for You
There are several different styles of light boxes and therapy boxes. You can find some styles designed to simulate dawn or the rising of the sun. These styles gradually increase in brightness to simulate the rising Sun in may be beneficial to those who need a little more pep or assistance in waking up refreshed and ready to take on the day. However, it is important to note that the true benefit of light therapy or photo therapy boxes is achieved after exposure to the light for a period of time, that period of time may be as little as 30 min. up to several hours depending on the style that you purchase.
1) Your first step is to make sure that the box is designed to treat SAD. There are some boxes on the market made to mimic the look and appearance of light therapy boxes, however they have no benefit to those with seasonal affective, emotional or mood disorders. There are also other legitimate sun-light therapy lamps are designed to treat other disorder such as those of the skin which will not be effective in treating the symptoms of a mood disorder.
2) next look for the photo therapy box that emits light at a level or wattage most suited to you. Some therapy lights may produce upwards of 10,000 lux which when used for 30 min. a day, in the morning is sufficient. Other boxes may produce smaller amounts- 2500 lux for example which may require exposure for longer periods of time but is better suited for some.
3) Read up on how much UV light is produced and emitted by each lamp or light box. Some styles offer better filtration of UV rays than others and you will want to go with the one that offers the least amount of UV ray emission.