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Seasonal Affective Disorder: Understand The Cause And Cure The Symptoms Naturally

Jan 20, 2008
SAD, otherwise known as 'seasonal affective disorder', is systemic in nature, and this condition can affect anywhere from 5 to 25 percent of the American population.

The symptoms can range from a relatively mild subtype form, of which affects a larger number of people and is commonly known as the 'winter blues', to more of a 'I can't get out of bed' type of clinical depression that affects a smaller portion of the population. Both though, disappear just as soon as daylight hours begin to increase in the spring. SAD seems to affect more females, 70 to 80 % of all sufferers, for unknown reasons, than males or children. Symptoms in males, however, can be more severe.

The whole seasonal affective disorder phenomenon has not always been recognized as a medical condition. The term was first acknowledged, and appeared in 1985. The onset of the condition typically can begin as soon as late summer or early fall arrives, and can last until mid to late spring. Roughly 6 to 7 percent of the population, over 10 million, reports experiencing the extreme symptoms of SAD like, clinical depression, cravings for and overeating of refined carbohydrates, sleeping excessively, a heightened sensitivity to pain, social withdrawal, significant weight gain (as much as 40 pounds a season), lack of motivation, loss of interest in things or people normally enjoyed, or a perverse sadness.

Regardless of your gender or age, however, the first step to getting to the root cause of the problem that may be causing your winter woes, is recognizing any variations of symptoms you may be experiencing. Milder symptoms are, largely, scaled down a bit from some of those mentioned above, even possibly a few others that are not mentioned here. The bottom line is, you simply do not have to dread going into the shorter days, and long nights every fall and winter season. You can become pro-active in reversing your symptoms, once you begin to understand how.

The main cause of SAD, of which you may or may not be aware of, has a relatively natural and simple treatment. Direct skin contact and eye exposure to brilliant sunlight is the curative answer. Unfiltered sunlight is the only way to benefit directly, as sunlight filtered through glass will give very little, if any, noticeable benefits.

Symptoms of depression coinciding with shorter daylight hours can definitely be a problem for many people living in the Northern Hemisphere. And, the further away you live from the equator, the less sunlight exposure time is available for your body to produce ample amounts of vitamin D through your skin. In extreme northern areas the amount of sun basking time is cut rather short, to only about 3 to 4 months out of a year.

For those of you who do live further north, and are feeling lethargic, you are most likely experiencing your body's inability to properly regulate the hormone melatonin. The hormone melatonin is produced by the pineal gland. Basically, this hormone is produced during darkness to help induce drowsiness, enabling you to sleep.

On the flip side, exposing yourself to more unfiltered sunlight, during daylight hours, helps with the regulation of an alertness hormone, called serotonin. When there is an adequate amount of this naturally occurring body neurotransmitter chemical being produced, it promotes a sense of alertness and optimal emotional well being.

A useful tip worth mentioning here, this light needs to come in through your eyes as well as your skin. When you are outside on a sunny day, take out the contacts, lay your eyeglasses aside, and for heavens sake, take off those stylish sunglasses for just a little while. Even if you can't see very well without your prescription eye ware, give yourself at least 30 minutes, or longer if you can, to help your body regulate its serotonin production levels.

Vitamin D, which is more accurately described as a hormone, is made through your skin with bare skin contact to ultra violet sun rays. This has also been found to significantly boost serotonin levels in the brain.

So, what if exposing yourself to more sunlight is next to impossible because of where you make your home or what you do to earn a living?

There are several different strategies you can use to get a better grip on the symptoms of this negative, and temporary, seasonal affliction the natural way. These helpful tips can really make antidepressants unnecessary.

By and large, the main technique has already been mentioned. Even on a mild and sunny winter day, shed some clothing when you get a chance, and expose what skin you comfortably can. Tanning beds are another option, however, be careful not to over do this one. Investing in a bright light box, which you can build yourself if you are a good handyman, works for many. Turn one room in your home to a bright light room, by installing the right light fixtures and obtaining the special light bulbs that are required.

In combination with light therapy, you can also use daily dietary nutritional measures, and lifestyle changes, to help insure you are getting enough physical exertion, and maintaining optimal vitamin D levels. Here is a helpful list of dietary and lifestyle tips to try.

1.Avoid consuming to many refined carbohydrates (eating to many can actually make you feel worse).
2.You might try having your vitamin D levels monitored occasionally. Talk to your doctor about this.
3.Take a high quality omega-3 fish oil supplement
4.Try supplementing with a vitamin D-3 (as cholecalciferol) tablet.
5.Get plenty of adequate physical exercise. Walking for 30 minutes a day or longer is very beneficial in fighting depression.

Above all of these measures, please consider the implications of being chronically dehydrated. Are you guilty of not providing your body with enough pure water consumption? Would you rather drink anything else but water? When you are not providing yourself with enough of your body's preferred beverage, it is going to rob you of real energy.

In Dr. Batmanghelidj M.D.'s self-help medical manual titled, "Your Body's Many Cries For Water", page 56, has this to say about stress and depression. "Pathology that is seen to be associated with "stresses"-- fear, anxiety, insecurity, persistent emotional and matrimonial problems-- and the establishment of depression are the results of water deficiency to the point that the water requirement of the brain tissue is affected. The brain uses electrical energy that is generated by the water drive of the energy generating pumps. With dehydration, the level of energy generation in the brain is decreased".

You can look at increasing your water intakes as energizing in itself. Simple water is the perfect fluid solvent to transport all of your nutritional supplements with, in receiving their potential, and maximum, benefits to the fullest. After all, was that not the reason why you invested your time, knowledge, and money to begin with?

May this helpful information support you well until the warmth of spring and summer arrives in your neighborhood. At which time, get out there and expose your skin and eyes to that wonderfully healthy bright, white sunlight for vitality, all season long!
About the Author
Brenda Skidmore has spent the last five years actively researching natural health care alternatives. It is her sincere desire to empower others by sharing this important information. To improve your health today visit
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