Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression. It affects people from fall through spring, peaking in January and February. The exact cause is not known, but it appears to be related to hormonal changes that occur with reduced sunlight. Depressive symptoms range from mild to severe. They include increased sleepiness, fatigue, loss of interest in activities, and weight gain.

The main treatment for SAD is light exposure. It is important to get outside during the daylight hours. Some people find using an artificial light box to be helpful. Antidepressants and counseling may be needed if this does not work.

Natural Therapies

There are not many natural therapies used to treat SAD symptoms. A well-balanced diet may be helpful. It should have a healthy mix of fish, dairy, eggs, fruit, and vegetables. These treatments are most effective when used with other treatments.

Possibly Effective

  • Vitamin D is made naturally when skin is exposed to sunlight. Winter season has less sun exposure. This may lead to a drop in vitamin D. Light therapy, regular daylight exercise, and a diet rich in vitamin D can increase the levels. However, there is as yet no conclusive evidence that taking vitamin D supplements effectively treats SAD.A1-A5
  • Negative air ionization therapy (high density) to mimic summer-like conditions B1-B4

Possibly Not Effective

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Herbs and Supplements to Be Used With Caution

Talk to your doctor about all herbs or supplements you are taking. Some may interact with your treatment plan or health conditions.

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