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seasonal affective disorder

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

Do you know what Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is?

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

SAD is a form of depression that is related to seasonal change; more prevalent in the fall and winter. There are a lot of factors that contribute to SAD including genetics, geographical location and lifestyle choices.

Positive things about the change of seasons

Think about the things fall and winter months are good for. They can also bring time for reading, self-introspection and new indoor hobbies. While most of us might feel a little glum during the colder, darker months of the year, roughly 15% of Americans experience a more severe form of this. It’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder; often referred to as SAD.

Below are some tips and preventative measures people can use to help avoid and/or alleviate symptoms of SAD. Even if you haven’t been officially diagnosed with this condition, these steps can help a person feel better overall during fall and winter months.

Tips to feel better

People who live at higher latitudes on the globe are more likely to have lower Vitamin D levels, especially during winter, due to limited sunlight exposure. Low levels of Vitamin D can increase the risk of SAD. In northern regions where sunlight can be sparse, light therapy has been shown to be incredibly beneficial. Another way to ensure enough sunlight exposure is to walk outside for a minimum of 30 minutes a day, regardless if there are blue skies or not. If need be, supplement with a Vitamin D pill. The Vitamin D Council recommends starting with 1,000 IU of Vitamin D3 daily for every 25 pounds of body weight.

A workout routine may also ease symptoms associated with seasonal depression. Most of us are apt to avoid exercise when it’s cold and wet outside, but it’s vital for our mental health to remain active during the fall and winter months. There are many free online exercise videos if it’s too wet to walk or run outside.


Another important piece to keep seasonal depression at bay is to make sure to eat a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory diet. This means a lot of vegetables, protein and healthy high quality fats from sources like salmon or healthy oils. Inflammation can contribute to depression, so eating foods high in omega-3 fatty acids may counter this. Similarly taking a high quality fish oil supplement helps. Sugar is incredibly inflammatory so make sure to limit sugar consumption during the holidays. This will help ease symptoms of seasonal depression.

What if there are still symptoms?

Lifeline Connections is committed to long-term mental wellness for our patients. We offer an integrated, holistic approach that includes therapy and case management. Our doctors specialize in the treatment of co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders. They work to solve ones that have a compounding effect. Contact us and reclaim your life.

Contact a doctor for a referral or find a therapist. They can work to design a custom plan for wellness.  Secure treatment is over the phone or computer with telehealth, providing coping skills for grief, loss, depression and anxiety. They will work with you one-on-one to get you feeling better.


American Psychiatric Association


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