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Join me for a conversation about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), more commonly referred to as Seasonal Depression. What makes SAD unique is its timing, it has a distinct seasonal onset, typically in winter, and a spontaneous remission of symptoms sometime in spring. In short, it’s just normal depression with a seasonal pattern.
In this conversation I'll unpack more on what it is, what might be contributing to it and some research supported things you can do to alleviate symptoms. In this conversation I'll discuss how the environmenal variable that is most closely tied to seasonal depression is the changes to daylight house and I'll present you with some new science that presents a possible light exposure proticold that could be impactful for anyone struggling with SAD.
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✨ 3 Takeaways from this episode:
SAD is depression with a seasonal pattern to it with various possible contributing factors but mainly decrease in daylight hours and added life stressors of the season. Understanding your unique contributing factors can lead you to what will likely be your most supportive interventions to minimize symptoms.
New research shows that people with lower retinal effectiveness might be at higher risk for SAD - enhancing and making testing this a more accessible part of the process of assessing individuals presenting with SAD could be helpful information, again pointing to or away from particular interventions as a more or less helpful starting point.
Daily morning sunlight is essential for optimal health of every human all the time but it appears especially supportive to those struggling with SAD who might also see additional benefits supplementing natural light with a bright light therapy pad.
10 other research supported steps you can take to manage/alleviate symptoms:
Seek Sunlight: Spend time outside during daylight hours as much as possible but especially in the morning. Bonus points if you can expoes more skin although I know in many places asking you to be outside in a tshirt and shorts is ridiculous - bottom line, in whatever way you can, get outside.
Light Therapy: Use a light therapy box to mimic natural outdoor light, use in the morning at the same time everyday for 20-45 minutes (consider consulting with a specialist to specify a personal protocol)
Regular Exercise: Physical activity can help relieve stress and anxiety, both of which can increase SAD symptoms.
Maintain a Schedule: Keeping a regular routine can help regulate mood.
Socialize: Stay connected with friends and family to avoid isolation.
Eat a Healthy Diet: A balanced, nurtrient denst diet, that optimzes for blood sugar regualtion can impact your mood and energy levels.
Vitamin D: Consider vitamin D supplements, especially if your vitamin D levels are low.
Mindfulness and Stress Management: Practices like meditation, yoga, or tai chi can help.
Talk Therapy/coaching with someone who speciailzes in SAD
Medication: In some cases, antidepressants may be prescribed.
📘 Other Resources:
Using Light (Sunlight, Blue Light & Red Light) to Optimize Health | Huberman Lab Podcast #68 (helpful times stamp @ ~ 1:12:00)
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