Natural Ways to Treat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)


* This article may contain affiliate links. For more information, please read my Affiliate Disclosure.

 

Natural ways to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder | Natural remedies for seasonal depression | Natural remedies for depressionAre you one of the estimated 11 – 12 million Americans who struggle with the Winter Blues (aka. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or “SAD” for short)?

If you or someone you love struggles with this, you’re definitely not alone. The good news though, is that there are natural ways to treat seasonal affective disorder that can help.

Known to affect young women three times more than any other group of people, SAD generally occurs in the winter, but can also occur in the summer months. Typically, it manifests as ‘the winter blues’ and in severe cases it can even require hospitalization.

Seasonal affective disorder is a legitimate diagnosis recognized by the medical community and should not be minimized.

 

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

To be diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder, a medical professional will look for a pattern of at least two years of major depression that changes with (and coincides with) certain seasons.

According to a recent article in Psychology Today, symptoms commonly associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder include:

  • Sadness and feelings of hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Tendency to oversleep
  • Changes in appetite, especially a craving for sweet or starchy foods
  • Weight gain
  • A heavy, weighty feeling in the arms or legs
  • Low energy level
  • Decreased physical activity
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Increased sensitivity to social alienation
  • Avoidance of social situations

Symptoms of summer SAD are:

  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Insomnia
  • Agitation and anxiety

Either type of SAD may also include some of the symptoms that occur in a major depression, including feelings of guilt, a loss of interest or pleasure in activities that you usually enjoy, ongoing feelings of hopelessness or helplessness, or physical problems such as headaches and stomach aches.

As a society we need to recognize common challenges like this as an illness and support one another. It’s important that mental illness of all kinds be de-stigmatized so that people can get the help they need to live their best life.

Related: Homesteading With Anxiety: Tips For Getting Through the Dark Days

Although the cause is unclear, there is some evidence that SAD is related to the level of melatonin in the body.

Melatonin is a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. The production of melatonin is stimulated by darkness. This prepares the body for sleep. As winter days get shorter and darker, melatonin production in the body goes up and people start to feel sleepier and more lethargic during what would be their normal waking hours.

People with SAD may also produce less Vitamin D in the winter months because they are exposed to less sunlight. Low levels of Vitamin D are associated with clinically significant depression symptoms.

While Seasonal Affective Disorder can affect anyone, it tends to be more prevalent in people living closer to the north or south poles than those who live closer to the equator. This is thought to be because people who live closer to the equator have the same number of daylight and nighttime hours year round and are not faced with the long winter nights and short days that come with living farther north or south. They also generally do not ‘spring forward or fall backward,’ like we do in America.

Family history of other types of depression can also make it more likely that someone will develop SAD between the ages of 18 -30, and it can last a lifetime.

So, what do you do when you realize you’re one of the millions affected by the winter blues?

 

Natural ways to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder

Disclaimer: This information is for entertainment and educational purposes only. If you are struggling with depression, please talk to your family doctor or health care provider about your available options. No one solution works the same for everyone. This blog is not a substitute for professional or medical advice.

>> Click here to read my full disclaimer.

For me, the safest approach is to treat SAD first with natural solutions. I recommend essential oils and a healthy dose of sunshine.

Let’s face it, we’re solar powered beings. Sunshine gives us energy and improves our mood.

Of course, all things in moderation. But beyond helping our bodies produce vitamin D and regulate melatonin and serotonin, sunlight offers us untold benefits.

You might also consider getting a light box and getting some light therapy. While good old fashioned sunshine is still recommended, light boxes can help trigger the brain to release melatonin and can help a lot of people who can’t get outside during the day.

Another alternative is to make it a priority to sit by a sunny window for a while each morning to soak in the suns’ healing rays.

 

Connect with nature and enjoy the little things to help beat the winter blues

In the dark, bitter cold days of midwinter when we’ve been deprived of quality time in the sunshine, it can be easy for almost anyone to and feel depressed and to overlook the tiny miracles that are happening all around us.

Signs of new life abound, even in the dead of winter!

Observe what I discovered on a walk in my yard in New Jersey this morning. Nestled between the seemingly frozen earth and a dusting of new snow is a reminder of spring… there is a blanket of moss just brimming with hearty, albeit tiny, vegetation.

Some people see weeds. I see signs of spring!

Nature finds a way to spring forth in some pretty harsh conditions. She shows us that adaptation and survival are possible, even in the most inhospitable of places.

Connecting with nature and appreciating the growth and signs of life all around us, even in winter can have a strong positive effect on our psyche and overall mental health. Aside from getting more sunshine (and fresh air), stopping to observe nature’s resilience and miracles even in the otherwise bleak midwinter helps us to feel grateful and hopeful, which can ward off feelings of seasonally-induced depression at this time of year.

 

Combating Seasonal Affective Disorder with fresh air

There was a time, not so long ago, when mothers were told to bundle up their children and take them out for a walk in their strollers to get them some fresh air and sunshine.

That has fallen out of vogue in recent years. But it’s still important. That fresh air and sunshine also helps you stay healthy, as most germs that will make you sick need to stay in the warm air of our homes.

Opening the windows on nice days and airing out the house comes from the same traditions.

Remember that when we’re depressed and stressed our immunity is suppressed. So, it’s critical we do all we can to support ourselves.

 

Essential oils for seasonal affective disorder

Another powerful, all-natural way to combat seasonal affective disorder is to incorporate some basic essential oils into your daily routine starting as soon as you feel the onset of depression.

I may be biased. (OK, I AM biased). But as a certified aromatherapist, I know that aromatherapy has the power to transform our mood. So why not employ a few drops of essential oils to boost your mood and get back on track?

If you’re accustomed to using essential oils, then you probably already know which oils you respond to best regarding elevating your mood and helping you feel grounded and return to a sense of emotional balance.

My personal favourite essential oils for uplifting mood are

  • Melissa
  • Vetiver
  • Lavender
  • Frankincense
  • Neroli
  • citrus oils like Bergamot, Wild Orange, and Grapefruit

If you’re well-versed in using essential oils to help elevate your mood, then get them out and start diffusing. Remember, you only need a few drops to have a big impact on your mood and sense of wellbeing.

 

How to use essential oils to combat seasonal affective disorder

Essential oils are the life’s blood of certain plants and have been used for centuries to support healing and a sense of wellbeing. They are powerful and should never be left where small children could accidentally ingest them or spill them on their delicate skin.

Related: How to Get Started with Essential Oils

Additionally, caution must be exercised when using essential oils around the elderly or chronically ill. But used correctly, they offer natural support to help our bodies return to a state of homeostasis that promotes healing.

Only use essential oils that you can trust are responsibly sourced from reputable companies who are providing a pure and natural product.

At The House & Homestead, we recommend Plant Therapy essential oils for their quality, affordability and for the emphasis that Plant Therapy puts on safe use.

Start off by diffusing one oil at a time so you can evaluate the benefits of each oil. Remember, each person is unique, so what might be terrific for one person’s mood might stir up negative emotions for others. Until you smell the oils you can’t know for sure what memories might be associated with them.

Next, get an ionic diffuser or two.

I suggest you try the following oils for daytime diffusing if you’re struggling with S.A.D. or just need a pick me up:

  • Wild Orange
  • Bergamot
  • Lavender
  • Cedarwood
  • Sandalwood
  • Neroli
  • Tangerine
  • Grapefruit

Start by diffusing 6 – 10 drops in a large diffuser for 2 – 4 hours and pause to evaluate how you’re feeling. Then try another oil and take note how that compared to the previous oil.

Once you’ve taken note of how each individual oil makes you feel consider blending 2 or 3 of them, but do not exceed a total of 6 – 10 drops at a time. This type of experimentation can be fun and has the added benefit of helping you feel empowered to take action to help support yourself.

Self-love is one of the most important things we can do to improve our overall mood and sense of wellbeing.

Related: 12 Free & Easy Ways to Practice Self-Care

A note of caution: citrus oils like orange, bergamot, tangerine, and grapefruit can be stimulating when diffused at night. They’re great for perking you up. But can make it difficult to sleep. So, listen to your body and see how each oil affects you personally.

Then once the sun goes down, try diffusing these oils overnight:

  • Lavender
  • Vetiver
  • Melissa
  • Frankincense
  • Neroli
  • Sandalwood

Try these oils individually in the nighttime for a couple of hours before bedtime. Should any one of them make you feel restless stop using it, rinse out your diffuser, and try another oil. They should help support relaxation and grounding and promote sleep. Only diffuse oils overnight that you have tried and gotten positive results with already.

Experiment with these nighttime oils as recommended for the daytime oils above. Let your body/mind be your guide in combining them when you’re aware of how they make you feel when you use them individually. Remember to not exceed 10 drops total in the diffuser at a time. It’s wasteful and frankly, unnecessary.

A word of advice: Clean your diffuser often to avoid build up of oils. It’ll function best when cleaned weekly, depending on use. Always follow the manufacturers recommendations.

You can also try some essential oil blends to help elevate your mood and calm anxieties this time of year. Here are a few to try:

Related: DIY Essential Oil Rollerballs for Fall & Winter

Feeling SAD?

Diffuse some essential oils and make time for a walk outside, preferably in nature. Take time to really see the forest for the trees (since there may not be able flowers to stop and smell just yet).

Get a healthy dose of sunshine (or at least some light therapy).

Open the windows and get some fresh air!

Meditate. Practice gratitude and enjoy the little things. Notice nature’s beauty all around you.

And lastly, remember that spring is just a few weeks away!

 

 


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ABOUT ANNA
Hi! I’m Anna, and I’m a city girl turned modern homesteader who’s passionate about growing, cooking and preserving real food at home, creating my own herbal medicine and all-natural home and body care products, and working toward a simpler, more sustainable and self-sufficient life each and every day. 
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Okay, I’m just gonna come out and say it: I’m a total sucker for pumpkin spice.

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In fact, I’m all about everything fall: the colours, the coziness, the sweater weather, and yes, pumpkins and pumpkin spice. There’s just something comforting and nostalgic about it; Like grandma’s kitchen or the warm scent of pumpkin pie that wafts from the table at holiday dinners with family and friends.

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As much as I'm honestly kinda over the garden by this time of year and ready to tuck in indoors and rest for a while, I know that the effort I put into my garden in the fall will pay a huge return come next spring and summer when we're ready to plant and then harvest our next round of crops.

For one, fall is the best time to amend and enrich your soil, so adding compost or manure or some sort of organic matter is pretty crucial this time of year.

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And of course, garlic should be planted in the fall before your first frost to ensure huge bulbs next summer. Us homesteaders always have to be thinking ahead a few seasons!

I'm taking you into our garden as we're tearing it down and planting out our garlic. I'll show you our fall gardening routine and I'll walk you through planting garlic so you can start growing it at home too! (It's honesty the easiest, most rewarding crop that we grow).

It's time for the grand finale in the garden this year as we tear it down and prep it for next spring. Will you join me for one last hurrah?

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Sometimes I question why I do what I do. Why do I take on so much? Why do I bother making everything from scratch and growing a garden and preserving food when I could just as well buy it from the store and save myself a ton of time and effort?⁣⁣⁣
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Why am I working hard to build a business out of my passion when I could just as easily go to work for a pay check and just enjoy homesteading as a hobby on the side?⁣⁣⁣
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Why do I choose to do everything the hard way and see against the grain? Why not just go with the flow and hope for the best?⁣⁣⁣
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I can’t say for sure that I would have chosen to follow all the same paths that I’ve gone down over the past few years had I not become a mother, but what I 𝘥𝘰 know for sure is that my beautiful daughter is worth every ounce of hard work; every dollar I’ve invested in our future goals and dreams; every late night work fest and canning session; every seed planted and loaf of bread baked.⁣

She’s worth it because I want to give her the best I can in life. I want her to eat good food and live a long and healthy life. I want to teach her how to be self-sufficient so that she has the skills she needs no matter what kind of world awaits her in the future. And I want to show her that anything is possible and any dream is worth pursuing, even if the work that it takes to achieve it is harder than following the herd and taking the road of least resistance.⁣⁣⁣
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This little human right here: this is my why. This girl and her goofy smile make everything worthwhile ❤️⁣⁣⁣
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What (or who?) is your why?
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This growing season has seriously been the strangest I’ve experienced so far. Summer came so late we thought it wasn’t gonna come at all. Our greens and peas and spring crops produced for weeks longer then they normally do as we waited FOREVER for our tomatoes and peppers and summer crops to grow and ripen.

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Can you imagine how bland and boring our food (and life) would be without spices??⁣

Seriously! We take them for granted nowadays because they’re so readily available in our pantries and on grocery store shelves. But for thousands of years throughout history, spices were coveted, revered and hard to get. For around 1,500 years, spices travelled overland on camelback and horseback on the Silk Road from China to the west. And then, just over 500 years ago, explorers set out into the unknown to find a maritime trading route, and one of those explorers just so happened to stumble on the Americas along the way, essentially shaping history and the modern world as we know it. ⁣

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So if you’re already subscribed, be sure to check your inbox for the latest issue (it came out yesterday). And if you’re NOT yet subscribed, then head on over and click the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead to subscribe for FREE, and get the latest issue delivered straight to your inbox!⁣

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It’s also Ginny's first time guest posting so be sure to leave a comment while you’re there and let us know what school looks like for your family this year.⁣

Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead
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I’ve been feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders lately. Between balancing work and the garden and all of the canning and preserving tasks this time of year, I’ve already got enough on my plate. Add a string of social commitments, back-to-school and extracurricular activities, and I’m definitely feeling the pressure, as I usually do this time of year.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
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But lump on a pandemic, worsening political tensions, division and civil unrest, intensifying environmental disasters (we’re currently socked in with smoke from the California wildfires), and it all just becomes too much to bear some days.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
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I know I’m far from the only one who’s feeling this way. And yet, we all have to just keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep going even when we’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed and burnt out. Even when the present is frightening and the future is uncertain.⁣

I’ve developed some strategies over the past few years that have helped me keep moving forward and get things done even when I’m feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, and I want to share them with others who need help coping with stress and overwhelm right now too.⁣⁣
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You can check out my list of 10 tips for managing stress and overwhelm on the homestead (and in life!) by clicking the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead and then clicking the link to the full blog post at the top.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
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You can also grab my free time management planner by clicking the link in my bio and then clicking on “Free Resource Library,” (find it under “Homesteading & Self-Sufficiency Resources” in the library).⁣⁣⁣
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No matter what you’re struggling with right now, I hope some of these tips help keep you navigate these extra stressful times and stay focused and moving forward with your to-do list, as well as with your big goals and dreams. But most of all, I hope it reminds you that if you are struggling and feeling overwhelmed right now, you’re not alone.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
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Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead to read more.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
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I don’t think I have a jar big enough for this pickling cucumber 🥒 ⁣

What do you do with the huge pickling cukes that inevitably get missed in the garden??⁣

Please leave suggestions below! I’ve got two of ‘em! 😂
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Late summer is truly the time of abundance (and by far the busiest time of year for us).⁣⁣⁣
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We’ve got so much food that’s ripe for the picking in our own garden, plus baskets full of produce that we purchase locally when it’s in season and preserve for the winter.⁣⁣⁣
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Between harvesting and preserving (and trying my best to document it all for you along the way), there’s little time for much else in August.⁣⁣⁣
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We’re busy sweating in the garden and the kitchen, working around the clock to preserve all of the fruits (and vegetables) of summer so that come winter we hunker down and relax knowing we’ve got a pantry full of food to sustain us.⁣⁣⁣
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While there have been more times than I like to admit when I’ve asked myself why we do this when we could be at the beach or floating down the river like everyone else, come winter I am ALWAYS grateful for the time and energy we invested in the spring, summer and fall to grow and preserve all of the food that lines our pantry shelves.⁣⁣⁣
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With everything that 2020 has brought so far (and more uncertainty to come), this year I’m feeling grateful even in the thick of it; Even while I’m sweating and pulling late night canning sessions and constantly scraping dirt out from under my nails. This year it’s more apparent than ever how much growing and preserving our own food is worth the time and effort that it takes.⁣⁣⁣
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If you feel the same way and you’re looking to get even better at gardening, preserving and homesteading in general, or maybe you’re finally ready to start living a more sustainable lifestyle where YOU have control over your food supply, I highly encourage you to check out the Gardening & Sustainable Living Bundle (link in bio @thehouseandhomestead). It’s packed with almost $600 worth of resources designed to help you take control of your food security and live a more self-sufficient life, and it’s on sale today only for just $19.99!⁣

If you ask me, we would all be wise to invest in our own food security as we head into fall and winter 2020, so click the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead to grab your bundle now. The sale ends tonight at midnight so don’t wait!!
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