Seasonal depression is a real thing, and it can be incredibly frustrating. I know that all too well, because I battle with it, too. As a therapist and person who struggles with Seasonal Affective Disorder these are the tools I use. As always, speak to your own physician and therapist to find what works best for you.
I am only sharing my own personal coping strategies.
I've tried lots of things to help me get through the winter months: light therapy, treadmill running, vitamin D supplements, vitamin B12 drops, probiotic supplements—and more. Some of these things have helped a little bit. Some have not at all.
If you're looking for ways to help yourself stay healthy and happy during the colder months, here are some of my personal favorites:
Products to Help with Seasonal Depression
As I've gotten older, I've noticed that my moods fluctuate more than they used to. This can be frustrating, especially when it's difficult for me to pinpoint what's causing the change in mood. For example, if I'm tired, my whole body feels tired and sluggish. That usually means I need sleep or just a nap! But sometimes I feel down and sad without any clear reason why. This is where Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) comes into play—and it hits me every year around this time of the year (spring).
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Physical Activity or a Treadmill
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Treadmills are a great way to increase your physical activity and can help you burn calories. They're also good for walking, running, jogging or even sprinting on. Sometimes we can't get outside during the winter, so having an indoor option like a treadmill can help.
If you have seasonal affective disorder, light therapy can be a helpful treatment. Light therapy is used to treat depression and other conditions by exposing the patient to certain wavelengths of light.
Many people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder or SAD are sensitive to the amount of sunlight they receive, so getting enough exposure to natural light can help them feel better.
If you're interested in trying out light therapy for yourself, here's what you need to know:
- How does it work? The body produces its own form of vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, which helps regulate moods and energy levels.
- How much should I get? Exposure should occur daily for at least 30 minutes per day under an acceptable intensity lamp (typically 10-12 lux).
- How much does it cost? Prices vary depending on the type and quality of your equipment; many options are available online and cost between $30-$200 USD.
A Probiotic, for Mood and Gut Health
Probiotics are a good thing for your gut, and they can also help with mental health. Studies show that people who take probiotic supplements or eat foods high in probiotics have lower symptoms of anxiety and depression.
If you're looking for the benefits of probiotics without having to swallow pills, consider trying kombucha (a fermented tea) or sauerkraut. I personally cannot stomach the taste of either, so this capsule is the way for me!
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Dietary Supplements, Vitamin D and B12
Vitamin D is a hormone that helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. It’s also important for healthy bones and teeth. Vitamin B12 helps make red blood cells and builds DNA, which carries genetic information.
Vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteoporosis, depression, heart disease and diabetes — all conditions that are linked with seasonal depression. Studies have shown that supplementing with vitamin D may improve symptoms of seasonal depression by helping neurons stay active in your brain longer after being stimulated by light or other sensory stimuli (like sound). In addition to sunlight exposure, you can also get more vitamin D from fish oil or taking supplements like these:
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I prefer the Vitamin D and B12 in liquid, it is easier on my stomach. I also think this Vitamin D NOW supplement line is great and the most affordable option under $10.
This is my favorite Vitamin B12 Supplement as well, it doesn't have a strong vitamin taste, so it's bearable. You can get a 2 pack for under $15, usually on Amazon.
Letting Natural Light into My Home, and using Sunlight Bulbs
Light therapy is a treatment for seasonal depression, and it can also be used to treat other conditions. It's a safe and effective treatment for seasonal depression, but you should always talk to your doctor before beginning light therapy.
In addition to being an effective treatment for seasonal depression, light therapy has been shown to improve sleep problems in people with bipolar disorder. It doesn't have any side effects, either! This makes it an ideal option when compared with prescription drugs such as bupropion (Wellbutrin) and sertraline (Zoloft).
Light therapy works by simulating natural sunlight in your home or office space. You wear special glasses that emit blue light into your eyes while you're awake in the morning; this helps boost serotonin levels so that you're feeling more positive throughout the day.
If you don't get a lot of natural light into your home, it's great to add in some full spectrum lights like these — to help with sleep cycles and mood. Check out this 2 pack on Amazon.
Sleep Mask, Sleep is Essential to Health
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Sleep is important to health, and a sleep mask is a useful tool to help you get more of it. It’s also great for napping. A sleep mask blocks out light, helping you relax and fall asleep faster. There are many different types of masks available; some have attached ear plugs that block noise as well!
The right sleep mask can help make your day go by more smoothly by giving you an extra hour or two of shut-eye time every night—and who doesn't want that?
This sleep mask has over 77,000 reviews and offers a complete black-out feel for deep sleep and rest.
These are just some of the items I use to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder.
I’m not going to tell you that these products will fix your seasonal depression or “winter blues”, but they can help. That’s why I use them: to ease the symptoms and make my life a little easier. One thing I know for sure is that there are no quick fixes, and that it takes time to recover from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
If you want any more advice on how to combat SAD naturally, check out my podcast about it here!
My Hope For You
I hope my experience helps you in your journey to health and happiness. Remember, it’s important to be kind to yourself, but also try not get too hung up on the details. Try something new and see if it helps.
All the Best,
Her passion is helping people understand how to Live Well for Less. She's also former plus size 22, fashion and beauty lover, who has struggled with finding fashion for her body type and size most of her life. Now currently a size 2 she tries to find inclusive brands and outfit styles that make all women feel comfortable and confident.
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