Seasonal Affective Disorder – Lifestyle Changes

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Seasonal Affective Disorder Lifestyle Changes

If you know that you are prone to SAD, it is worth planning some lifestyle changes. In the winter there is a tendency to eat lots of stodgy food, consider which foods are best for alleviating the symptoms.  Seriously consider changing your main long holiday of the year to the winter and stick to a shorter holiday or long weekends in the summer.  Winter holidays either for summer sun or up in the snowy mountains walking or skiing will give you the benefit of the natural light.


Because light is so important in the treatment of SAD getting out and getting exercise outdoors, making the most of natural light, is really important. Studies have found that exercise is effective in treating SAD but that more work needs to be done on what, when, how much and how often to exercise to find out what exercise regime is the most effective for overcoming SAD. For those being treated with antidepressants exercise has also been found to have an important role in helping to manage symptoms. 


There is a theory that SAD is caused by disruption of our natural body clock – circadian rhythms. Many suffers of seasonal affective disorder report poor sleep and low wakefulness. Maintaining a good pattern of sleep may therefore help with the management of symptoms. There are many ways to develop what’s known as ‘good sleep hygiene’ these include:

·         Avoiding caffeinated drinks in the evening

·         Exercising, but not in the evenings

·         Eating the evening meal early

·         Having a regular sleep routine.


Fatty Fish

A certain number of fatty fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, rainbow trout) as are fish oils (like cod liver oil) are some of the highest sources of Vitamin D.As well as being high in Vitamin D oily, fatty fish (mackerel, herring, salmon, sardines, anchovies) are the best sources of omega-3s because they contain the “more potent” forms of omega-3s: eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Dairy products

Also high in Vitamin D are fortified milk and egg yolks, which are also high in zinc – well known for boosting the immune system and keeping winter colds at bay.  

Nuts and seeds

Flaxseed, hemp, canola and walnut oils are all rich sources of another omega-3, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).


Evening is the time when we want to start snacking and when SAD symptoms are strongest. Instead of reaching for biscuits, you can fill up on healthier carbohydrates including popcorn, pretzels, shredded wheat and for supper try brown rice, potatoes and carbohydrates that have plenty of fibre.

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