Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) Dietary Supplements

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Dietary Supplements for Seasonal Affective Disorder

5 Dietary Supplements for Seasonal Affective Disorder

Gray skies for days, temperatures well below freezing, wind that blows right through you, snow storms, and limited sun exposure characterize the brutal winters in New York City, where I live and work. I try not to be bothered by the winter, but when I get to work at 9 a.m. and don't usually leave until 7 p.m. (on a good day), the sun feels like an old friend whose presence I miss.

Many of my employees and patients are not feeling like themselves as a result of the harsh winters, which may be due to seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is preventable and treatable, although many people are unaware that they have it.

How to recognize SAD

SAD is a type of depression that affects a person around the same time every year. Because of the gloomy weather, winter is the most common season for SAD. Symptoms usually appear around Halloween and disappear around Easter.A cursory review of the medical literature finds that the exact etiology of SAD is unknown, although most specialists believe it is caused by a reduction in serotonin, a mood-regulating brain chemical.

1 Reduced sun exposure can result in a decline in serotonin levels, which can lead to depression. The changing of the seasons can also disrupt the balance of melatonin, a natural hormone that influences sleep and mood.

The following are some of the signs and symptoms of SAD:

  • Sad, grumpy, moody, or worried feelings
  • A lack of enthusiasm for your typical activities
  • Increased appetite and a desire for carbs such as bread and spaghetti
  • Increased weight
  • More sleep and drowsiness during the day
  • Consider SAD if your patients describe feeling gloomy or more exhausted than normal at this time of year.

SAD Treatment Options

We use a variety of holistic therapy modalities in my pharmacies, and SAD is no exception. To counteract and, in certain cases, avoid SAD symptoms, I propose dietary supplements. Here are five vitamins that I frequently offer to my patients and believe would benefit you:

1. 5-HTP

5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is a low-cost vitamin supplement derived from an African bean that aids in the rise of serotonin levels in the brain. Depression is thought to occur when these levels fall too low. The body can convert 5-HTP into serotonin, but it requires adequate tryptophan, which is normally obtained through meals.

The body may swiftly and naturally rebuild serotonin levels by taking 5-HTP supplements. Increased serotonin leads to a boost in mood, which can happen in minutes. "As an antidepressant, 5-HTP has consistently matched or exceeded many of the most established antidepressant medicines, including Prozac, without the unpleasant side effects that these treatments are known for," Julia Ross, MA, author of The Mood Cure, wrote about it. Learn more!

2. Tyrosine

Tyrosine, a natural antidepressant, is the fuel that our brain needs to produce catecholamines, another natural antidepressant. The US military uses tyrosine because it is so successful at reversing the physical and emotional effects of stress. Tyrosine promotes powerful pleasure-inducing molecules known as "enkephalines," which contribute to a general sensation of well-being (cousins to endorphins). Learn more!

3. Melatonin 

Melatonin is a hormone that aids in the regulation of sleep/wake cycles as well as mood. The pineal gland in the rear of the brain produces melatonin from the amino acid tryptophan. The pineal gland responds to the experience of daylight in the eyes by inhibiting melatonin synthesis and release. Melatonin production increases at night or in the dark, and this rise in plasma melatonin is assumed to be responsible for inducing sleep. The change of seasons can throw off the balance of melatonin levels, resulting in difficulty sleeping and irritability due to exhaustion. A melatonin pill can help you maintain a healthy sleep/wake cycle all year long. Learn more!

 4. SAM-e

S-adenosyl-methionine (SAM-e) is a methyl donor that is involved in a number of metabolic events, one of which is to maintain the healthy functioning of neurological processes. SAM-e, being a primary source of methyl groups in the brain, in combination with other methyl donor metabolites like betaine, choline, or folate, may help the brain's sensitivity to serotonin and dopamine. Serotonin deficiency has a detrimental impact on mood and leads to depression, which is a crucial symptom of SAD. Learn more!

5. St. John’s Wort

St. John's Wort extracts are best known for their mood balancing characteristics and well acknowledged for their beneficial, supportive effects on mental and emotional function, despite the fact that it has a variety of traditional purposes. St. John's Wort, like many other botanicals, has been used for thousands of years, but it is just recently gaining favor in the United States and elsewhere. Learn more!

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