Do you tend to feel off with the change of the seasons? There’s a host of reasons why, but often with the lack of sunlight, comes a lack of energy and even depression. Reduced levels of vitamin D and a serotonin imbalance can affect mood, but if you’re proactive, you can reduce, if not completely eliminate the effects of Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD).
Dr. Axe, our favorite online health expert describes SAD as “a form of clinical depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern”. It’s known as “winter depression,” because that’s usually the time when symptoms become apparent.
While the exact reasons for SAD aren’t clear yet, it’s believed that a vitamin D deficiency and a lack of sunlight keeps the hypothalamus from working properly. This can lead to a disruption of circadian rhythms. When our circadian rhythms are out of whack, it can affect our levels of melatonin and serotonin.
In people with SAD, melatonin, the hormone that makes us feel sleepy, might be produced in higher levels, leading to increased feelings of lethargy. On the other hand, serotonin levels decrease. Serotonin is a hormone that affects our mood and appetite; not having enough serotonin is linked to depression, according to NHS.
Last year, we had renown author, Julie Fast, come to our studio and gave a presentation on SAD and the importance of keeping your happy hormones in check. Here’s a little clip about how our Whole Body Vibration machines may help bring you relief from SAD.
What can you do about SAD?
Get Quality Sleep
Having a consistent sleep schedule is important to circadian rhythms and crucial to feeling mentally stable. Going to bed before 11pm and at a set time every night is also crucial to keeping serotonin and melatonin levels in check. The National Sleep Foundation has some great tips for maximizing your circadian sleep-wake rhythm that can be found here.
Even though it may be hard to get yourself moving initially, regular exercise has been proven to help with traditional types of depression, and the Mayo Clinic says that SAD is no different.
Staying active increases the production of feel-good chemicals that can help ease depressive feelings and even brain fog. As you may or may not know, Whole Body Vibration is amazing at helping boost serotonin and endorphins, and lowering stress hormones like cortisol. We also have full spectrum lights at our studio that mimic daylight, so not only are you boosting your feel good hormones, you’re getting some light therapy at the same time!
According to Dr. Ax, “research also suggests that it’s the frequency and consistency of exercising, rather than the duration or intensity, that has the most positive effects — that said, you don’t need an intense or high impact workout to get benefits.” Whole Body Vibration is the perfect kind of exercise because it engages so many muscles in the body, but is low impact and safe to do daily.
Add a vitamin D supplement
Vitamin D, or the sunshine vitamin, has been linked to depression. Patients with seasonal affective disorder often have low levels of the vitamin. Get your vitamin D levels checked! Most U.S. adults are low in this vitamin, and adding a vitamin D supplement could help you feel better, improve bone health and boost your immune system.
When there is a ray of sunlight during the cold, dark months, take advantage. We know it rains a lot in Portland, but we also know it could be sunny 5 minutes later, so take advantage of the daylight when you can. Your brain and body will thank you for it. Another great option, is light therapy. You can check out some of the best light therapy lamps, just for SAD, right here.
With the right tools, you don’t have to suffer. Stop in at our wellness center and try some of our modalities. Get a free demo of Whole Body Vibration by appointment, or try PEMF for a better nights sleep! Call us at (503) 233 – 9030 to schedule a free tour and demo!