Seasonal Affective Disorder
In the 1980’s, researchers discovered that certain changes in the state of psychological well-being were associated with changes in the seasons. They gave it a name, Seasonal Affective Disorder. People who are affected suffer from a decrease in their sense of psychological well-being and, in the most severe cases, can sink into an actual depression. Although the symptoms and their intensity vary from person to person, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) usually manifests itself in increased moodiness or even depression; low energy levels; a general lack of interest as well as irritability. What characterizes this type of disorder is that it begins with the arrival of autumn and increases gradually until it reaches its zenith at the end of winter. Individuals who are affected by this condition start to experience a gradual improvement with the onset of spring.
Most researchers agree that SAD is due to a decrease in exposure to sunlight which causes a decline in the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Lower serotonin levels can cause depression, anxiety, insomnia and even an increase in appetite. The medical solution is usually to prescribe antidepressants which act on serotonin levels. Although effective, in many cases, these antidepressants have side effects as ell as a risk of addiction.
Fortunately, there are natural solutions to prevent or treat this state of seasonal sluggishness. And, unlike antidepressants, they have no side effects or risk of addiction. The editor-in-chief of the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience has emphasized the positive effects of using natural approaches to increase serotonin production.1 Here are two that have been shown to be effective.
Our anti-stress B-complex formula, DC52 (formerly STRS). This formula provides a high dosage of Vitamin B3 (niacinamide). Since the late 1950’s, Vitamin B3 has been shown to be an anti-anxiety, anti-depression and anti-stress vitamin. The other vitamin found in the high-dose formula is Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) which has also shown important anti-stress effects. DC52 also provides all the other B-complex vitamins. An original study published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry has shown that all B-complex vitamins have important effects in reducing depression.2 This formula also provides magnesium and Vitamin C, two nutrients associated with improving the body’s adaptation to stress. Also note that it has been known since the late 1950’s that both B-complex vitamins, as well as magnesium, help to increase energy levels.
2. Light Therapy / Heliotherapy
If the decline in serotonin production is primarily caused by a lack of natural light, it follows that increasing sunlight exposure or using lights which reproduce the spectrum of sunlight would be a logical approach. In fact, there are a number of studies that highlight the positive effects of light therapy on individuals affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder. Indeed, light therapy is probably the most frequently used - and safest - complementary tool to treat this problem. Our heliotherapy (sun therapy) device reproduces the high-energy infrared spectrum - the same type of light that has shown positive effects in the treatment of depression.3 But this device goes far beyond simply producing light, it also produces heat. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has shown that the use of heat (hyperthermia) can have significant antidepressant effects.4
If you think you may be affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder, or want to prevent it, consider the DC52 formula, a vitamin and mineral formula that's perfect for providing targeted nutritional support. You can also try using light and heat that mimics the sun with heliotherapy.
- Simon N. Young, How to increase serotonin in the human brain without drugs, J Psychiatry Neurosci 2007;32(6):394-9.
- Davison, Karen and Bonnie J Kaplan, Nutrient Intakes Are Correlated With Overall Psychiatric Functioning in Adults With Mood Disorders, CanJPsychiatry 2012;57(2):85–92
- Theodore A. Henderson and Larry D. Morries, Multi-Watt near-infrared Phototherapy for the Treatment of comorbid Depression: an Open-label single-arm study, Frontiers in Psychiatry September 2017, 8:187
- Clemens W. Janssen, Christopher A. Lowry, Matthias R. Mehl et al Whole-Body Hyperthermia for the Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder A Randomized Clinical Trial JAMA Psychiatry. 2016;73(8):789-795