Don’t be SAD this winter!

Strategies for preventing and coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects many people. SAD is a form of depression, usually experienced during autumn and winter as the hours of daylight decrease and you naturally spend more time indoors. SAD is a natural response to the lack of light that we are exposed to that affects our Vitamin D and serotonin levels.

Symptoms include mood swings, lethargy, insomnia and feeling ‘down.’ There may be difficultly getting motivated and loss of interest in hobbies. Sufferers may also crave carbohydrates, leading to weight gain. Remember that you are not alone and don’t have to suffer in silence.

What can I do? There is a lot of help available to treat SAD, and some great preventative actions too. Visit your GP for advice, or for a holistic approach talk to your local health food store or nutritionist.

Preventative: Prepare yourself for winter by using mood-boosters from summer on-wards:

Vitamin D – to boost your levels depleted by loss of light.

Echinacea – to support your immune system.

St John’s Wort (Hypericum) – to counter feelings of depression. Hypericum is incompatible with some prescription medicines, so check with your healthcare provider.


Get outside! Maximise exposure to daylight.

Exercise is proven to help with depression, so go for a walk. For the less mobile consider getting a DVD for seated exercises.

Listen to upbeat music that will get you singing or dancing; no ballads or lovesick songs!

Mindfulness helps you focus on the good things around you, and reminds you that SAD is temporary and will pass.

Relax and imagine yourself lying on a hot sunny beach or sitting in a beautiful garden in summer. Use all your senses to create a sense of warmth, light and well-being.

Boost your intake of fresh fruit and vegetables.

High quality Vitamin B is a mood booster and brain-food. It helps to counter depression and provide emotional support. You may not be able to take this with Hypericum so check with your healthcare provider.

Rescue Remedy is a herbal tincture that is great for a quick boost when you are feeling really down.

Artificial daylight bulbs give off a strong white light that replicates daylight.

The supplements mentioned are available in tablet form, but ensure you get a good quality brand with natural ingredients and no ‘fillers’, from a good health-food store. Consider tinctures and sprays rather than tablets.

Do remember that if your depression persists, it is always good to speak to a mental health practitioner for advice and support.

So, be prepared in autumn and be happy not SAD this winter.