Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Canadian winters are known for being long and dreary, even when there’s not much snow. Our bodies and minds need plenty of sunshine and when there’s not enough, we feel it in the form of physical and mental deficiencies. This is what many individuals experience at this time of year, known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

SAD is a disorder that occurs because the brain is exposed to less natural light and Vitamin D during winter months, especially from January to March. This disrupts the brain’s production of serotonin, an important hormone that regulates moods. Some experts have compared the symptoms to depression.

Symptoms of SAD include feeling sleepy and lethargic, excessively craving carbs, lack of energy and motivation, irritability, social withdrawal, brain fog and mental anxiety. It is particularly challenging to overcome these symptoms because the cold climate does not motivate us to get outside and take in fresh air and exercise. With the countless number of digital distractions such as TV, video games and social media, it’s very easy to slip away into sedentary activities, which tend to make the condition worse.

One of the best ways to treat SAD is with light replacement therapy. There are several natural light panels (blue spectrum lights) that can be purchased at health and wellness shops to replace natural light for 30-60 minutes each morning. These lights help to boost your body’s vitamin D.

It’s also important to be physically active. Make an effort to go to the gym, or even a community swimming pool 2-3 times a week. Whatever you do, make sure it’s something that you enjoy. In addition, strive to have regular social contact with friends and family to decrease feelings of loneliness and isolation. Having an “accountability partner” increases the likelihood that you will stick with a healthy routine.

Remember to eat nutritious food that contain essential vitamins and minerals. A good rule of thumb is to shop for whole grains and fresh produce. Avoid packaged foods as much as possible. To supplement your diet, we recommend taking Vitamin B-12 (available at our clinic) and Vitamin D3 Liquid (available from our online store). Taking Vitamin D in liquid form is a superior way for our body to absorb the vitamin.

Well over 90% of Canadians are deficient in Vitamin D year-round unless they take a supplement. A higher dosage is needed if you have dark skin, due to increased melanin content in the skin. Vitamin D should be taken just before, during or after a meal with some fat content in order to get maximum absorption. Click here to purchase Vitamin D3 Liquid from our online store.

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