As it’s nearing the winter solstice – the shortest day of the year (in the northern hemisphere at least), it’s just four days away as I write this, it seemed like an appropriate time to cover Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD). When the amount of sunlight we get is at an all time low it can have a huge impact on your life. These are all the herbs for fighting seasonal blues that you can use daily throughout the winter season.
What are the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder?
Unless you know you suffer from seasonal disorder it isn’t always easy to diagnose. A lack of sunlight (and vitamin D) can effect your body in a number of ways, ways that can all be attributed to symptoms of other illness and health problems.
The most common symptoms of SAD are:
-lack of energy or enthusiasm
-difficult to concentrate
-wanting to sleep more
-prolonged spells of low mood
-feeling stressed or anxious
-a disinterest/finding no pleasure in normal everyday activities
-lack or creativity or motivation
-tendency to feel irritable
-low self esteem / feelings of worthlessness, despair or guilt
-becoming less sociable
The symptoms will usually start in autumn and winter, but will get better come spring. They can be continuous throughout the darker months, or you could feel them in phases – some days or weeks you feel fine and happy, others you are struggling with many of the symptoms above.
How to treat SAD with natural remedies
If you go to a doctor for this disorder they will often prescribe a mild antidepressant to correct the chemical imbalance, which often causes many more problems and side effects of its own.
However there are many natural herbs found in nature (and your local halt store) that you can use safely without any side-effects, that will have the exact same outcome for your body.
St. John’s wort
St. John’s wort is a flowering plant with a bright yellow flower that can be found in woodlands, hedges, and meadows. An infusion of the herb can be used to soothe anxiety, irritability, and nervous tension. It is also a sedative, so taking an infusion of St. John’s before bed will help you to sleep.
You can also take St. John’s wort in tablet or tincture form to treat mild to moderate depression and SAD symptoms. St. John’s wort works by boosting your feel-good hormone serotonin. It contains hypericin and hyperforum as active ingredient, and has been shown to be as effective as Prozac but without the side effects.
Start taking St. John’s about a month before the autumn/winter seasons as it can take a month to start taking action.
Saffron is most commonly know as a spice used in food. But it has many health benefits as well as it’s taste.
There are also things you can do to help improve your mindset at this time of year too. Ensure you are getting lots of natural sunlight and regular exercise to start.
Other practices that have helped me are mindfulness and practising small gratitude’s each day, which you can read more about in my previous post here.
I have also written some tips for dealing with anxiety too.
And always remember, you are never alone with your problems