You are here

4 ways to cope with SAD


4 ways to cope with SAD

Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD is a form of depression that affects people in the winter, when it is colder out and there is less daylight. Fall and winters in the Pacific Northwest can be particularly dark due to cloud cover, and how far north we’re located. About 5 percent or more of the population in the Pacific Northwest gets SAD every year.

Here is information from Neighborcare Health about the causes and solutions for overcoming SAD:

What causes SAD?

A lack of serotonin

This is a natural chemical in the brain that affects mood. Seasonal changes in serotonin levels may be part of why people get SAD.

Changes to our internal clock

The body has a strong internal clock, also known as circadian rhythm. This helps the body regulate sleep, body temperature, hormones and more. The change in hours of sunlight in the winter can alter that internal clock.

Low melatonin levels

This hormone made in the brain regulates and thus affects sleep and mood. Changes in season can alter the level of melatonin in the body.

Solutions for overcoming SAD

1. Spend time outside

Getting as much natural light as possible during the winter months will help. If you get home from work and it’s already dark, think about taking a morning or lunch time walk when the sun is out.

2. Exercise

This is a good way to stay active, healthy and release endorphins. Endorphins are a chemical that can improve mood and boost the immune system. Walking, running, dancing, swimming, yoga or any other physical activity can help improve mood and health

3. Eat healthy foods

This includes eating foods high in vitamin D, such as fatty fish like salmon and tuna, eggs and fortified milk. Foods that have Omega-3 fats like flaxseed, sardines and anchovies, also help with mood. Also, asparagus, avocado, berries, oatmeal, low-fat dairy, chamomile and green tea, dark chocolate, oranges and walnuts can help relieve SAD symptoms by adding needed vitamins and nutrients to the body.

4. Use a SAD light

A SAD light therapy box can help lift feelings of seasonal depression. The light box simulates outdoor light which researchers believe changes chemicals and hormones in the brain. This can help to relieve feelings of depression. It is recommended that you speak to a health care provider before using a light box to make sure it is safe and healthy for you and to make sure you know how long to use it for.

For more information about the symptoms, causes and remedies for SAD click here.

Neighborcare Health is the largest provider of primary medical and dental care in Seattle for low-income and uninsured families and individuals, serving our community for more than 40 years. More information is available at