Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that begins and ends with the change in seasons, most predominantly from fall, through the winter, and into early spring. Seasonal Affective Disorder causes feelings of depression, feeling hopeless or worthless most of the day, and almost every day. Other symptoms of SAD include low energy, problems getting along with others, oversleeping or difficulties staying awake, changes in appetite, weight gain, irritability or easily agitated, and difficulty concentrating. Recent estimates show 10 million Americans being affected by SAD.
There are many factors that contribute to SAD, but they are all directly related to a reduction of sunlight. Exposure to sunlight helps maintain levels of melatonin, serotonin and vitamin D. A decrease in melatonin disrupts your normal sleep patterns, causing feelings of fatigue that affect mood. Melatonin helps your body create serotonin, a chemical in your brain that is known as your “feel-good hormone”. Low levels of serotonin can spark feelings of depression, anxiety and irritability. Serotonin plays a role in appetite control and low levels will create cravings for sugars and carbohydrates. These types of foods are major contributors to weight gain and blood sugar imbalance. Serotonin also affects brain health, specifically memory and learning. Vitamin D works in areas of your brain that are linked to depression. Vitamin D activates genes that release neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin that are necessary for a healthy mood and sense of well-being.
The most common form of treatment for SAD is full-spectrum light therapy. The Chromalux full-spectrum light bulb has its origin in Finland, land of the Midnight Sun, where light must be sustained in almost total darkness for a few months of the year. Extensive testing and research there resulted in the design of this unique light source, which closely stimulates Natural Daylight. By increasing black and white contrasts, Chromalux improves readability, reduces eye stress and allows for optimal visual comfort. A Chromalux bulb will restore freshness and purity to the colors of objects and surroundings. It literally feels like you have direct sunlight in your home or office. Chromalux creates a pleasing, colorful and relaxing environment that enhances people’s sense of well-being. People living in light deprived areas of the world, and those suffering from seasonal affective disorder have greatly benefited from full spectrum light therapy. This is why they are often referred to as “happy lights”.
You can now buy Chromalux bulbs at the World of Nutrition!
The vast majority of Americans are deficient in vitamin D. Taking a vitamin D supplement containing 4,000 IU has been shown to have the largest improvement on vitamin D levels in the body and in creating a sense of well-being.
Tryptophan is an amino acid that is converted by they body into 5-HTP and then to melatonin and serotonin. Tryptophan is the least plentiful of all the amino acids and so many people benefit from taking it in supplement form. Doses of tryptophan at 1,000-3,000 mg per day have been shown to significantly decrease feelings of depression, irritability, cravings for carbohydrates, and appetite overall. Taking as little as 250 mg of tryptophan in the evening greatly improves sleep quality and treats a range of sleep disorders. Tryptophan is well tolerated by the body and is safe for long-term use.
Omega 3 fatty acids from fish decrease the risk of developing depression and provide a powerful and proven boost to your mood and brain health. Having higher levels of Omega 3’s make it easier for serotonin to pass into cell membranes, increasing the amount of serotonin in your body to support mental and emotional health.
Regular exercise has been shown over and over again to work better than antidepressants to prevent and treat depression and give your mood an instant boost. Exercise helps to clear the mind, decrease feelings of anxiety, and release endorphins for a surge in energy and feelings of happiness.
Exciting new research shows that the bacteria in your gut significantly influence mind, mood and healthy behavior. More serotonin is produced in your gut than in your brain! Supporting the condition of your gut from sources like fermented vegetables, kefir, kombucha or a probiotic supplement is critical for maintaining mental and emotional health.
You should always avoid processed foods and sugar, but it is especially important for those battling SAD or other mood disorders. Refined sugar, chemicals & toxins in processed foods have a damaging effect on brain function, mental health, and wreak havoc on your gut. Food has an incredible impact on your mood, coping skills, and energy levels.