What’s Seasonal Affective Dysfunction? (Defeating SAD!)


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Winter is approaching and with it comes SAD.

No, I don’t imply the emotion (though that’s a part of it).

I’m speaking about Seasonal Affective Dysfunction.

Fortunately, we’ve got some ideas and tips for treating SAD that our On-line Teaching Purchasers use. In the present day, we’ll share them with you too.

Right here’s what we’ll cowl:

Disclaimer: We’re going to be discussing some points which may be troublesome for some going by a tricky time. In case you (or somebody you understand) aren’t coping so effectively, PLEASE see the hyperlinks on the backside of this text with some sources from all all over the world. Clearly, we suggest discussing this info along with your well being skilled – none of it is a analysis, however reasonably a place to begin for dialogue.

BUT, armed with the precise weapons, we will thrust back the winter monster, and even preserve it in full hibernation.

From right here, psychological well being wizard and resident NF Household Insurgent Correspondent, Dan Schmidt, will take it away:

What’s Seasonal Affective Dysfunction?

As Coach Jim mentions within the video above, Seasonal Affective Dysfunction (SAD) is a temper dysfunction that, spoiler alert, has a seasonal sample. 

(Plus, it’s a extremely intelligent acronym.)

It’s also called:

In a nutshell, SAD makes individuals with ‘regular’ psychological well being expertise depressive signs at a selected time every year – most frequently winter.

Charlie Brown saying "I always end up feeling depressed."

SAD generally is a merciless, highly effective, and damaging arctic foe.

However armed with the precise weapons, we will thrust back the winter monster, and even preserve it in full hibernation.

How Do I Know if I’ve SAD?

This picture shows Mario acting a little SAD

Most of us really feel just a little glum in winter…it’s pure to really feel just a little down.

Chilly mornings, much less time exterior, and usually it’s not as simple to get out and do our favourite issues:

A gif of an RV outside

So for lots of us, winter simply sucks just a little. 

We’ve recognized one thing was up for the reason that sixth century, however SAD remained a legendary creature till the Eighties within the West when it turned formally acknowledged as a temper dysfunction. Whereas we’re nonetheless not 100% positive of the way it works; it’s fairly clear to see that SAD particularly thrives in cooler, darker climates.

For instance, research present[1] SAD’s prevalence within the U.S. ranges from round 1% in Florida to 9% in Alaska. Trying all over the world, in Oslo, Norway, round 14% of the inhabitants shall be impacted by SAD,[2] whereas us fortunate buggers Down Beneath are barely impacted in any respect, with estimates that solely round 1 in 300 Aussies (0.33%)[3] will expertise SAD in the course of the “winter.”

A picture of a sand "Snowman" that says "meanwhile in Australia"

Sure, SAD can happen for some individuals throughout summer time and different seasons, however that is notably uncommon in comparison with winter prevalence.

Widespread SAD signs embody:

  • low temper for a lot of the day.
  • lack of curiosity in your traditional actions.
  • drowsiness and low power (lethargy).
  • fatigue, irritability, and extreme temper swings.
  • Irregular sleep patterns (an excessive amount of and/or too little)
  • consuming greater than traditional, particularly craving sugar and carbohydrates, resulting in weight acquire.
  • lack of curiosity in stuff you usually take pleasure in doing.
  • intrusive or disturbing ideas.

Melancholy is not only a elaborate phrase for feeling “bummed out”, and SAD is simply as critical as every other despair and must be handled promptly and successfully. (See the top of the article for a record of psychological well being companies hyperlinks.)

“However how do I do know the distinction between basic winter glumness, or if I’m being mauled by the SAD beast like Leo within the Revenant?”

This gif shows a man being attacked by a Bear, cartoon style.

Ask your self these questions:

  • “Do you’re feeling like you’ll be able to’t get your self out of this rut?”
  • “Have you ever misplaced an curiosity in issues that you just often take pleasure in?”
  • “Have you ever felt this fashion for greater than two weeks?”

In that case, then it could possibly be time to have a chat with an expert and maybe search therapy. As soon as once more, SAD is simply as actual and may be simply as devastating as Main Depressive Dysfunction; the one distinction is the yearly common onset.

This bitter beast can take over somebody’s total well-being, and if left untreated, the results may be devastating.

So let’s learn the way we will slay the SAD, and even higher, preserve it in hibernation this yr, so we nerds can proceed to beat all yr spherical.

What’s the finest therapy for Seasonal Affective Dysfunction? (Slaying the SAD Beast)

A picture of a Games of Thrones bobblehead, who is about to slay the SAD monster.

As with all harm or sickness boss battle, you want to use the precise drugs weapon to avoid wasting the day. And there are various weapons you’ll be able to equip your self with to slay SAD.

Right here is learn how to deal with Seasonal Affective Dysfunction: 


Gentle helps the physique produce serotonin (hormone that impacts temper) and reduces the manufacturing of melatonin (hormone that makes you sleepy).[4]

Beginning with pure mild is finest, although it’s not all the time simple. If the solar occurs to be peeking out from the clouds, try to get exterior for a pleasant stroll. Even on chilly or cloudy days, outside mild might help, notably within the morning. Simply ensure you bundle up correctly. The Norwegians have a saying “There is no such thing as a dangerous climate, solely dangerous clothes!”

Additionally, making your work and residential environments as mild and ethereal as attainable and sitting close to home windows might help too. 

A gif of someone opening a window to help with SAD

In case you really feel you’re simply merely not in a position to get sufficient pure mild, ‘Gentle Remedy’ is mostly one of many first weapons picked as much as slay SAD.[5] It could actually begin assuaging signs in only a few days. It’s extremely easy, and sitting underneath vivid fluorescent globes or in entrance of a remedy lamp (once more, notably within the morning) has proven to be efficient in opposition to SAD[6] (Anecdotal, however I as soon as met a younger lady who began to really feel higher simply by growing the wattage of her bed room mild globes).

Be forewarned that Gentle Remedy isn’t applicable for everybody, together with individuals with bipolar dysfunction – speak to an expert if it is a route you need to take.


Shock, shock, our previous mates come to the rescue as soon as once more. It’s clear[7] that train is essential in conserving the blues at bay, so rug up and take an extended stroll, and you’ll want to work out when attainable.

Gonzo knows he has to eat protein to match his strength training goals, but he doesn't eat chicken, for obvious reasons.

Train and different varieties of bodily exercise assist relieve stress and nervousness, each of which might enhance SAD signs.

In case you’re actually eager to tackle winter, attempt the Winter Is Coming Exerciseand begin constructing that summer time physique early. For many who don’t just like the freezing climate, that’s cool (get it?), you’ll be able to all the time do Steve’s 20-minute lodge room exercise (professional tip: you don’t truly should be staying in a lodge room to do the exercise… that was $250 I’ll by no means get again).

As for vitamin – whereas there isn’t a well-established hyperlink between wholesome dietary practices and a discount in SAD signs. BUT, studies HAVE proven hyperlinks between wholesome consuming – just like the Mediterranean food plan – and a lower on the whole despair.[8]

So something we will do to eat wholesome this time of yr could definitely assist.

Plus, Steve has already highlighted that when you’re going to eat unhealthy meals throughout winter, let’s a minimum of be sensible about it and negate the influence the holidays have on our waistlines. Strive your finest to offer a counterbalance to these consolation meals, and preserve your food plan as shut as you’ll be able to to what it’s the remainder of the yr.


When publicity to daylight is low, your physique makes much less Vitamin D.[9] In keeping with this research,[10] Vitamin D deficiency impacts almost HALF of the world inhabitants. It can be crucial for general well being. Our mates over at Look at say that in case your food plan is first rate and there’s just one complement you’re taking, it ought to most likely be Vitamin D throughout these upcoming months.

The analysis is just a little combined relating to Vitamin D’s effectiveness in battling SAD,[11] however some research[12] do present an enchancment to everybody’s despair scale scores (these with or with out SAD). General, when you aren’t getting sufficient daylight within the winter, take into account selecting up some Vitamin D!

Suggestions differ for the quantity of Vitamin D wanted – or when you even want it – so additional blood work and a chat along with your physician is an efficient alternative right here.


Meditation has been proven to assist alleviate signs of despair.[13] Now, you don’t need to shed all of your worldly possessions and go dwell within the mountains:

Aang from the Last Airbender meditating

However when you’re affected by the winter blues, a easy mindfulness follow could assist. Even only a few minutes a day can go a good distance.

In order for you, Nerd Health Journey has a meditation journey that can assist you construct up the behavior.

It’s free to attempt, proper right here:


Going again to overseas sayings – there’s a Danish idea of “hygge.”

Whereas there’s no direct English translation, it essentially means coziness and luxury

Issues like:

  • Wrapping your self up in a blanket.
  • Having fun with an excellent guide.
  • Or sitting by a heat fireplace.

Garfield sitting by fire

So as a substitute of lamenting the change of seasons – EMBRACE these different experiences that we get to take pleasure in.


Speak Remedy (Psychotherapy) and cognitive behavioral remedy sound scary however actually aren’t.

Psychotherapy focuses on serving to you to construct expertise to cope with the stresses in your life, together with figuring out and altering unfavourable considering patterns.

Therapies akin to these help with relearning a number of the patterns and ideas in your life that aren’t doing you any good.

(You’ll be able to learn the Nerd Health Information to Psychological Well being for more information.)

It could actually really feel daunting and actually bizarre ‘opening up’ to a stranger at first.

However having a coach to speak by your unfavourable ideas and emotions, somebody who can train you to handle these higher, is mostly fairly efficient.

Most individuals will discover an enchancment in as little as two weeks. Actually, the “bizarre” stigma is often the largest barrier to even doing the factor within the first place!


Lastly, some individuals with SAD profit from antidepressant therapy, particularly if signs are extreme. We’re not right here to supply any medical recommendation, so please see your physician when you suppose medicine could help you.

Shifting ahead with SAD (This too shall move)

A picture of Link in the sun, who overcame SAD

It’s regular to have some days if you really feel down, and the vacation season may be particularly laborious for some.

When brief days and depressing climate are piled on prime of this, it’s simple to see why ‘winter blues’ is so widespread. However when you really feel down for days at a time and you may’t get motivated to do actions you usually take pleasure in, please converse to somebody and see your physician. That is particularly vital in case your sleep patterns and urge for food have modified, you’re feeling a way of hopelessness, you’ve intrusive ideas, otherwise you flip to alcohol/substances for consolation or rest.

Above all, care for your self this winter: 

  • Make sure you get sufficient relaxation, and take the time to chill out.
  • Take part in an train program or have interaction in one other type of common bodily exercise.
  • Get exterior when you’ll be able to.
  • Make wholesome selections for meals and snacks when attainable.
  • Attain out to a trusted good friend, member of the family, or well being skilled when you really feel you’re having a tricky time.

And if somebody reaches out to you, bear in mindWe’re Rebels, we battle standard knowledge and smash stigmas. By no means depart a fellow nerd behind.

The Rock saying "we have to do this together"

In case you really feel the bitter, arctic beast beginning to rise from its summer time slumber, bear in mind that you’re not alone, and there are methods to slay the frosty fiend. You might be sturdy sufficient to beat this, and all the Insurrection has your again.

Need just a little extra from us?

If you wish to proceed your journey with Nerd Health, we’ve got three nice methods for you to take action:

#1) Our On-line Teaching Program: a training program for busy individuals to assist them make higher meals selections, keep accountable, and get more healthy, completely.

You’ll be able to schedule a free name with our staff so we will get to know you and see if our teaching program is best for you. Simply click on on the button beneath for extra particulars:

#2) In order for you an actual roadmap for getting match, take a look at NF Journey. Our enjoyable habit-building app helps you train extra incessantly, eat more healthy, and degree up your life (actually).

Plus, we’ve got Missions particularly designed that can assist you keep lively, it doesn’t matter what the climate is like exterior.

Strive your free trial proper right here:

#3) Be part of the Insurrection! We want good individuals such as you in our group, the Nerd Health Insurrection.

Enroll within the field beneath to enlist and get our Insurgent Starter Equipment, which incorporates all of our “work out at house” guides, the Nerd Health Weight-reduction plan Cheat Sheet, and rather more!

Alright, that does it for me. Rebels, care for your self and one another.

Do you’ve your individual secret weapon to slay the SAD? We’d love to listen to from all you Rebels about how you retain your thoughts wholesome throughout winter; the extra concepts all of us have, the higher! Tell us within the feedback!

– Dan

PS – In case you, or somebody you understand, would love additional assist, listed here are some wonderful hyperlinks and companies that can get you began in the precise path:


Photograph supply: lilu330 © 123RF.com


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