How to Prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder

Опубликовал Admin
29-09-2016, 08:45
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of major depression that reoccurs year after year during the fall and winter months when exposure to natural sunlight is significantly reduced. Symptoms of SAD vary, but often include sleep problems, difficulty waking up in the morning, changes in appetite or weight, carbohydrate cravings, lack of energy, body aches and pains, memory loss, difficulty making decisions, concentration problems, low self-esteem, social withdrawal or isolation, lack of interest in activities enjoyed at other times, reduced sex drive, and suicidal thoughts.


  1. Walk briskly outdoors, even in cold weather. An hour spent outdoors walking in winter sunlight is as effective as 2-1/2 hours of light box therapy. Midday when the sun is at its highest point is thought to be the most effective time to walk during winter months.
  2. Spend some time outdoors every day. The effects of daylight are beneficial, even on cloudy days.
  3. Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet in order to get sufficient amounts of essential vitamins and minerals.
  4. Exercise at least 30 minutes a day, at least 3 days a week. Regular physical activity helps reduce both depression and fatigue. When possible, exercise during the day near sources of light. If possible, find an outdoor sport or hobby that you can enjoy during the winter months to encourage you to spend more time outdoors.
  5. Maintain your regular activities, including interaction with family and friends, as much as you can. Social contact and support is very important when suffering from mood disorders.
  6. Increase your daily intake of Vitamin D. A minimum of 400 IUs per day are recommended, although some physicians are recommending higher daily doses. Discuss higher doses with your healthcare professional for the time of year when your SAD symptoms are present. Begin the higher doses before the first symptoms appear and continue until you are able to get sufficient daily natural sunlight again.
  7. Open blinds and curtains in your home and office to let in as much natural light as possible. Arrange the rooms in your home so that you can maximize your exposure to light while eating, reading, working, or watching television.
  8. Sit near a window whenever possible, preferably in the sun.
  9. Use a light therapy box. Generally, light therapy consists of sitting for 30 minutes in front of a 10,000-lux light box in early morning to mimic the benefits of natural sunlight. Begin light therapy before symptoms of SAD start.
  10. Join a SAD support group. In addition to finding support, you may also learn of other strategies and resources that people are using to effectively combat their symptoms.
  11. Vacation in a warm, sunny location during the time of year that your symptoms are worse, if possible. Even short vacations with lots of sun can help.


  • It's most effective to take steps to prevent SAD before you begin to experience symptoms rather than waiting until you're already depressed.


  • If symptoms of SAD persist despite your preventive efforts, consult with your healthcare provider who may need to develop a customized treatment plan.
  • If you are photosensitive, be sure to protect your eyes and skin from sun exposure.
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