Tips for Seasonal Affective Disorder

Bring Back the Sunshine This Winter!

What are the symptoms? Think hibernation mode. Symptoms include: low energy, increased desire to sleep, low libido, low mood, craving for sweet/sugary foods, difficulty concentrating, anxiety, and sluggishness.

Don’t let Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) get you down this winter!

How to prepare for those dark gloomy days ahead…

Did you know that there are simple ways to stay healthy and happy during the Fall and Winter? Yes there are! Studies have shown that Seasonal Affective Disorder aka “SAD” can be prevented.

What is SAD?

SAD is a mood disorder that produces symptoms of depression in the winter months. Symptoms usually subside in the spring and summer.

What are the symptoms? Think hibernation mode. Symptoms include: low energy, increased desire to sleep, low libido, low mood, craving for sweet/sugary foods, difficulty concentrating, anxiety, and sluggishness.

What causes SAD? Some possible causes of Seasonal Affective Disorder are changes in light exposure going into dark winter months. Low levels of melatonin, serotonin (the “feel good hormone”), lack of exercise, and low thyroid levels. However the core issue is that undernourishment can lead to symptoms. So, getting proper nutrient levels, exercise, and sleep can prevent SAD symptoms.

A way to get healthy is to…get healthy (especially in the cold damp months).

  • Get moving! Yoga has shown in several studies to help fight depression which can be a component in SAD.
  • Get outside more, even in the rain. In the winter we tend to drop our normal daily activities and exercise because it is dark and rainy. It is this drop in “moving” that can contribute to SAD symptoms!
  • Eat right. Try and eat whole foods, only eating foods with ingredients you can pronounce (quinoa is an exception), and less processed foods. By eating a diet loaded with quality protein and good fat curb your cravings for sweets and sugar.
  • Light therapy: using light therapy devices or “dawn/dusk simulators” can help symptoms in 95% of SAD cases.
  • Taking the right supplements: Get your vitamin D! Also, taking supplements that help brain function like fish oil and phosphatidylserine. Herbs that can boost energy and mood such as Ashwaganda, Kava, and Dandelion root. And using aromatherapy (essential oils) in diffusers such as orange peel, rosemary, and spruce have been shown to help with SAD symptoms.

Have questions about how natural medicine and acupuncture can help you stay healthy during the cold and flu season? Dr. Heintze is an expert in digestive health and migraine treatment. She sees patients at her private practice in Bothell, WA. If you would like to schedule an appointment, please call (425) 686-4498 or visit: startingpointacupuncture.com.

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Dr. Ellie Heintze, ND, LAc

  • Master’s Degree in Acupuncture
    Bastyr University
  • Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine
    Bastyr University
  • Master’s Degree in Chemistry
    Northern Arizona University
Dr. Heintze Acupuncturist and Naturopathic Doctor

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