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Beating the Fall Time Change: How to Prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder

Posted Oct 08 2008 8:15am

It’s that time of the year—the days are getting a little shorter, the mornings are crisper and the leaves are in the midst of beautiful, colorful changes. The time change is just around the corner and as Northerners, this season is invigorating yet marks the passage to much colder and drearier, darker days. The ending of Daylight Savings time and the falling back of the clocks yield darker mornings, early evenings and more time indoors.

Native Northerners and Southern transplants suffer from varying forms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), commonly known as winter depression. Even the most energetic and upbeat individuals feel the impact of the seasonal change. The statistics are alarming and more than likely, if you are reading this you may experience symptoms that become noticeable at the onset of fall; feelings of mild depression, seasonal weight gain, listlessness, the inability to wake up in the morning, a decrease in libido and premature bone loss. One in five northern residents suffer from SAD. Even more difficult, one if four, Fibromyalgia sufferers experience SAD symptoms. Over 20 million Americans experience varying levels of winter depression and more than10% of these individuals live right here in the Northeast.

The root source of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a chemical imbalance in the brain, particularly within the hypothalamus. In the fall and winter months the brain produces more melatonin than serotonin and the production of Vitamin D slumps with the lack of exposure to the sun. Serotonin reaches its lowest levels in December and January. The Winter Equinox often marks the lowest period for SAD sufferers. Melatonin is the regulatory chemical that adjusts sleep patterns and in an abundant state induces melancholy feelings, an inability to get out of bed in the dark mornings and increases in carb cravings. The chemical imbalances that accompany shorter days instill a sense of foreboding, unease and mild depression that is hard to shake.

One of the greatest remedies for individuals who suffer from winter blues or SAD is the use of light therapy. Full Spectrum light lamps or “happy lamps” emit natural light similar to that from the sun minus the harmful UVA and UVB rays that are linked to skin cancer, advancing skin aging, skin spots and even potential damage to our eyes. I have a deep affinity to these “happy lamps” as I routinely use a full spectrum light box to help combat the affects of winter depression.

Often SAD sufferers find changes in diet, exercise and supplementation to be equally effective in combating SAD and minimizing its symptoms. A low fat, low carb diet that is rich in leafy greens and lean proteins is helpful. Moderate daily exercise has been helpful in increasing energIt’s that time of the year—the days are getting a little shorter, the mornings are crisper and the leaves are in the midst of beautiful, colorful changes. The time change is just around the corner and as Northerners, this season is invigorating yet marks the passage to much colder and drearier, darker days. The ending of Daylight Savings time and the falling back of the clocks yield darker mornings, early evenings and more time indoors.

Native Northerners and Southern transplants suffer from varying forms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), commonly known as winter depression. Even the most energetic and upbeat individuals feel the impact of the seasonal change. The statistics are alarming and more than likely, if you are reading this you may experience symptoms that become noticeable at the onset of fall; feelings of mild depression, seasonal weight gain, listlessness, the inability to wake up in the morning, a decrease in libido and premature bone loss. One in five northern residents suffer from SAD. Even more difficult, one if four, Fibromyalgia sufferers experience SAD symptoms. Over 20 million Americans experience varying levels of winter depression and more than10% of these individuals live right here in the Northeast.

The root source of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a chemical imbalance in the brain, particularly within the hypothalamus. In the fall and winter months the brain produces more melatonin than serotonin and the production of Vitamin D slumps with the lack of exposure to the sun. Serotonin reaches its lowest levels in December and January. The Winter Equinox often marks the lowest period for SAD sufferers. Melatonin is the regulatory chemical that adjusts sleep patterns and in an abundant state induces melancholy feelings, an inability to get out of bed in the dark mornings and increases in carb cravings. The chemical imbalances that accompany shorter days instill a sense of foreboding, unease and mild depression that is hard to shake.

One of the greatest remedies for individuals who suffer from winter blues or SAD is the use of light therapy. Full Spectrum light lamps or “happy lamps” emit natural light similar to that from the sun minus the harmful UVA and UVB rays that are linked to skin cancer, advancing skin aging, skin spots and even potential damage to our eyes. I have a deep affinity to these “happy lamps” as I routinely use a full spectrum light box to help combat the affects of winter depression.

Often SAD sufferers find changes in diet, exercise and supplementation to be equally effective in combating SAD and minimizing its symptoms. A low fat, low carb diet that is rich in leafy greens and lean proteins is helpful. Moderate daily exercise has been helpful in increasing energy and regulating sleep patterns. Supplementation with Vitamin D, a B Complex and 5-HTP are helpful. 5-HTP acts as a precursor to serotonin and will help balances the levels of serotonin and melatonin.

Darker, shorter days can now represent a consistent flow of happiness and contentment. With slight changes in diet, exercise, supplementation and the addition of light therapy equilibrium is around the corner.

*As a result of her own experiences, Naturopathic Entrepreneur, Melissa Gallagher created a natural remedy for Seasonal Affective Disorder called Sunshine in a Box that was recently featured on CNN Accent Health News. For info or to buy your northern relatives Sunshine in a Box call: 727-954-8968 or visit HealthyBeingProducts.com
Healthy Being promotes natural health & wellness products and lifestyles. View more healthy related articles at: http://www.healthybeingproducts.com
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