A Naturopathic Doctor's Experience with Seasonal Effective Disorder

I want to share with you what I have learned about Seasonal Affective Disorder, by simply admitting I have it.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a well documented and widely know mental health condition. It affects us most north of the equator, and is a conversation I have often with patients and friends. We casually mention the onset of low mood and a marked decrease in energy - so why are people still less likely to seek help? I myself was one of those people.

Learn more about Seasonal Affective Disorder

The truth is that SAD is a circumstantial onset of depression that can manifest in many ways - not just “sadness”. Common symptoms include irritability, low energy, lack of motivation, withdrawing behaviour from social engagements, self-doubt and many more. Having been in this same position, why do we surrender to this, instead of seeking help? 

First line of therapy in conventional medicine is anti-depressants (SSRI's are common) and counselling. I feel this is perhaps one of the bigger barriers. I understand the resistance to medication, I myself felt this was the biggest barrier to care. However, what I failed to realize or accept was it is okay to supplement and treat your seasonal affective disorder as circumstantial depression. Because that is what it is. 

Effective alternatives to medication exist.

A combination of all of the following will yield the best results, but I have listed them in order of importance.

  1. St.Johns Wort. A misunderstood herb - it is truly an incredible and effective herb for treating mild to moderate depression. However, due to the way it is metabolized in the liver, it does have notable drug interactions. Speaking with an ND who is extensively trained in these interactions can help guide safety and dosage.
  2. 5HTP + Magnesium + B6. A wonderful combination of the building blocks of our own serotonin. Seasonal Affective Disorder affects our ability to produce enough serotonin, compared to the summer months. Offsetting this drop by supporting more serotonin production makes us more likely to even out our levels!
  3. Counselling. Finding a therapist that you connect with is important. For myself and many of my patients, that has been solution-oriented therapy. Discussing the main narratives or self talk, and finding tangible solutions to help disrupt intrusive thoughts and boost self-esteem. Click here to book with our counsellor now. 
  4. Exercise. The unsung hero of mental health! It is undeniable that exercise is the most foundational way to improve mood (next to sleep). Exercise impacts or hormones to keep them balanced, boosts energy and boost the brain chemicals that keep us happy.

Other considerations

Vitamin D. Getting tested and supplementing appropriately and happy lamps. Click here to learn more about picking the right lamp!

Timeline. Winter in Atlantic Canada is 5 months long, that is more than ⅓ of the year. We want to help optimize this time for you, and help you get the most out of winter. Book now to chat options and a personalized plan!

Book Moncton.

Book Charlottetown.


In health,

Celine, ND

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