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How to Avoid Supplements when you have Seasonal Affective Disorder ("SAD")

Using supplements (for example St Johns Wort) is one way of alleviating the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder ("SAD"). It is not the whole story and some people are unhappy about taking supplements. St Johns Wort in particular can cause problems if taken in conjunction with some prescription medications (particularly for heart conditions), and medical practitoners advise against it in such circumstances.

There are numerous ways to avoid supplements in addressing the symptoms of SAD:

Helpful Foods

There are many foods which are especially helpful in stimulating production of, contain precrusors of, or assist in reducing free-radicals, enhancing levels of seratonin, norepinephrine, GABA, acetylcholine and other neurotransmitters in the brain. Such foods include eggs, turkey, ham, milk, cheese, carbohydrates, brown rice, cottage cheese, peanuts, pumpkin and sesame seeds, fish and algae, wheatgerm and wheat bran, and green vegetables.

These are all part of a normal balanced diet anyway, but you may consider how balanced your diet actually is, and adjust it to help with the winter blues.



Light Therapy is one part of the solution. Getting extra sunlight on those relatively sunny winter days is not always easy (unless you live in high mountains), so a daylight box can help with that. The light need to be close to that of the sun in 'colour temperature'.

If you work at home, position your chair so that it faces the window (a south facing window if possible if you are in the Northern Hemisphere).

Winter Sunshine

If you can, try to get away for a winter sun break. This can be of major benefit, particularly as it gives you something to look forward to. Do try to avoid too much east-west travel though, as jet lag is closely linked to SAD in terms of cause.


Besides its obvious benefits to heart and lungs, exercise releases endorphins in the brain, a feel-good chemical. Cycling, walking and running get you out of doors and into the daylight. Maybe some light stretching exercises in the morning before breakfast to get the circulation going.

Music and Dancing

Build a list of music which cheers you up and play your list regularly. It's easy with tools such as Spotify to build a happy playlist. If it makes you want to dance, so much the better - that's exercise too. I love Brazilian music and play my list regularly.


It's good to laugh, especially with others. Do you have any DVDs that make you laugh? Put them on, even if you are doing something else at the time you can hear the soundtrack and laugh - it will release endorphins - more 'feelgood'. Buy a set of your favourite comedy series, and play them regularly. I keep a joke book handy, and of course, friends send me 'funnies' in emails.

Minimise Alcohol Intake

Alcohol is a depressant, and it is a good idea to reduce your intake during the winter months. It will help improve you shape too.

Daily Life - Keep Yourself Occupied

If you have too much time on your hands, then thoughts can turn inward - not always a good thing if you spend a lot of time on your own. So, keep yourself busy, and try to build in extra socialising - maybe join a dance or exercise class, go to a comedy club and laugh.

These are a just a few of the ideas that I use in managing my own condition. It is not always easy to jump out of bed in the morning and start working out, I know. Try to plan five of these items into every day, and then feel good about yourself if you achieve three of them.

Don't forget to check that your diet is in balance. Too much pizza? Next time, pick a Pizza Capricciosa - anchovy and eggs - that's a real tonic!

And, as you know, things will improve in the springtime!

Ideas for managing to live more happily through the winter months, written by Phil Marks - someone who has lived (and sometimes struggled) with the condition for over 20 years. If you want to know more about the above, and extra ideas besides, then hop over to => 




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