Seasonal Affective Disorder
(SAD)

The appearance of a depression and other emotional downturns in an individual during the winter, and which gradually fades away by the time warmer months arrive during the spring and summer of the next year is known as seasonal affective disorder or SAD for short. SAD is a peculiar condition, and it cannot be compared to the downcast mood that most people feel on the onset of winter, it is therefore not a simple change in the emotions of the person or a usual swing in mood, it is a defined disorder. The symptoms of SAD can be compared to attacks of depression in a person as it closely resembles this condition, it can totally put the person out of sync with his or her surroundings or it can be merely irritating and persistent. Exhaustion and fatigue set in, the person loses the ability to concentrate on tasks and loses focus, and the person in addition to this he or she experiences a loss of initiative and this disturbs all normal activities that the person carries out on a daily basis. Other psychological symptoms include bouts of crying and abrupt mood changes and emotional swings. Sleep is disturbed and problems like wakefulness at night ensue, similar to the effects of other forms of depression, however, the person may at the same time feel a very strong urge to sleep and rest. Gain in weight is a common effect of the disorder as appetite zooms up and the person tires to cope by eating a lot of food. Health is undermined and affected as the foods consumed typically include a lot of sweets and unhealthy synthetic snacks and other fast foods that are oily and have very little nutritional value.

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It has been suggested that the absence of sunlight during the winter months has something to do with the disorder because many patients have found relief through early-morning light therapy, this lack of light may be the chief cause of the disorder in all afflicted individuals. This notion is further strengthened by the fact that people living in the northern latitudes, which as an area typically receive very little sunlight in the winter, are more susceptible to SAD, and they seem to be affected by this disorder on a frequent basis when compared to those living in tropical zones. Patients with SAD have higher levels of the some hormones; melatonin in particular, and the disorder may be caused by an imbalance in hormonal levels within the body.

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The body needs sunlight to manufacture vitamins and for general functions and the artificial lighting in the northern climes, which utilize incandescent and fluorescent methods, lacks the complete light spectrum essential to the body. The person may suffer from chronic fatigue and depression, the immune system is often suppressed and other severe conditions like cancer may strike unexpectedly, all these conditions can be induced by overexposure to artificial lighting systems. Underlying emotional trauma may be responsible for depression if the changes in mood occur during the Christmas season or during the time of an anniversary of some difficult and traumatic past event, the depression in this case is clearly not due to the artificial lighting. Underlying and unresolved emotional events usually surface around the Christmas season. The winter months may also induce other conditions like fatigue and mood changes and this are not necessary the symptoms of SAD and are not necessarily connected to it.

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Supplements and herbs

All manners of depressions and depressive states in a person can be alleviated by different supplements of essential nutrients and substances. In the person the appearance of conditions like depression and physical fatigue are induced by low levels of the essential B vitamins, and the B12 in particular. Because of better absorption characteristics sublingual tablets of the B12 should be preferred over other forms when supplementing with the vitamin. Supplements must also be done using the vitamin B complex as a whole to replenish nutrient levels in the body. Because of their ability to promote resistance in the body, and to minimize anxiety and physical exhaustion, a combination of the vitamin C with the natural plant bases substances called the bioflavonoids is recommended as supplements. As long as your bowels can tolerate it use high doses of the vitamin C as a further supplement. The essential minerals calcium and magnesium promote the functioning of the nervous system at an optimal rate and are excellent as supplements during the worst symptoms of the condition.

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The onset of sleep and wakefulness in a person is called the sleep wake cycle or biorhythms and this process is regulated by a hormone called melatonin, utilize this substance as a supplement to normalize the disturbed sleep patterns during the depression. Depression can also be subdued by supplementing with essential fatty acids; the oil of the evening primrose herb is rich in these acids and also has other nutrients, which are beneficial to health. The oil of the evening primrose herb include substance that function as building blocks for the production of a class of compounds called the prostaglandins, many chemical processes are modulated by these hormone-like substances in the body, they also regulate the chemical processes linked to the onset of depression in a person, thus the oil of the evening primrose herb can be used towards this end. Obesity and excess body weight can also be trimmed though the use of the oil of the evening primrose as a supplement in the diet. Herbs such as the wheat grass or the barley grass have essential nutrients and prevent behaviors like overeating when used as dietary supplements.

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Herbal juices and herbal teas made form the herbs given below can boost energy levels and induce happiness in the person and these are important supplements containing other nutrients as well.

The fresh juices of green leafy herbs like the parsley, the watercress and the dandelion can be used at doses of a tbsp. a day to stimulate the performance of the liver. Depression and melancholic states can be alleviated by drinking the juice made from the borage herb, use a tbsp. of this juice daily as the properties of this juice are the stimulation of the body, the elevation of mood and the promotion of energy levels in the person. The patient's energy levels can be restored and depression can be relieved by drinking tea made from the roots of the licorice herb, the St. John's wort herb and the wonderful all purpose ginseng herb, drink this tea at least three times daily, this tea can be prepared by boiling a tsp. of the herbs in a cup of water and straining the resulting fluid.

Additional things you may do

When winter arrives and during the season, it is recommended that you exercise the body by walking outdoors everyday for a short time as far as possible. Prescription and contact lenses must not be worn and avoid shades or dark glasses. A better mood can be induced on exposure to the minimal sunlight and the fresh air outdoors even on cloudy days during the winter months. Using sunlight simulating methods such as full spectrum lighting, which is the best form of all artificial lights, can further alleviate the symptoms of SAD in the person.

Usual dosage

  • Evening primrose oil, 2x500 mg capsules thrice a day
  • Vitamin B complex, 100 mg thrice a day
  • Vitamin B12, 100 mcg (sublingual tablet)
  • Vitamin C (with bioflavonoids) 1,000 mg
  • Magnesium, 500 mg
  • Calcium, 1,000 mg
  • Green food supplements, one tbsp.
  • Melatonin, 0.5-10 mg
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Comments

From Amar - Feb-09-2011
Fish oil is helpful so is folic acid, vitamin B6 200 mg a day, and zinc 50 mg a day in addition to above mentioned items.
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