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Holistic Treatments for Seasonal Depression

Updated on June 15, 2011

Holistic Treatments for Seasonal Depression will reveal natural and or herbal remedies that can assist sufferers from the winter blues called SAD. Maybe you or a loved one suffers from seasonal depression sometimes called winter depression or clinically known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and may not even be aware that it exists. Experts estimate that about 6 in every 100 people (about 6%) experience some seasonal affective disorders.

Also researchers have found that the number of people having the SAD symptoms varies from region to region. Within the United States New Hamphsire is seven times higher than Florida; which suggests that people living farther from the equator are more likely to develop seasonal affective disorders.  It is also important to mention that men suffer from this type of depression as well.  As the fall season rapidly approaches, I thought it would be great to share what I have learned about this illness within the last few years.

Being a positive individual, I noticed a couple of years ago how my mood begin to change during the holidays. Especially during the Christmas holidays when most people were at their happiest at time, I only felt worn, tired, and sad. For a couple of years felt it might be just loneliness since I was recovering from a relationship where we both decided to move on in life. However, by the second winter I knew it had to be more than loneliness for a relationship that had ending on mutual agreement. That’s when I decided to Google, “Why do I feel sad in the winter time?” And thank goodness Wikipedia and the Mayo Clinic are always there to provide answers.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year”. An individual’s symptoms may start in the fall and continue into the winter months; however, occasional there are sufferers who’s depression like symptoms’ occur in the spring to early summer months. And the symptoms for SAD are different with individuals suffering with winter depression verses summer depression.

Spring and Summer SAD Symptoms

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Increased sex drive
  • Irritability
  • Poor appetite
  • Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
  • Weight loss

Fall and Winter SAD Symptoms

  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Difficulty concentrating and processing information
  • Hopelessness
  • Loss of energy
  • Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Oversleeping
  • Social withdrawal
  • Weight gain

Continuous wet, cold, gloomy, wintry days...
Continuous wet, cold, gloomy, wintry days...

What Causes Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Depression sufferers caused by SAD, experts believe is triggered by the brain’s response to the decrease in daylight exposure. As the video explains no one really understands how or why this happens, but it seems to happen. SAD affects all genders and all ages, and in my opinion even some animals seem to feel the effect of the seasonal changes. Some cats and dogs just seem to become lazy while other animals like bears choose to hibernate and sleep through the cold wintery days.

Experts believe the two specific chemicals (serotonin and melatonin) may be involved with the seasonal affective disorder. Theory has it that sunlight might play a key role in the brain’s production of these two hormones which helps regulate a person’s sleep-wake cycles, energy, and mood. Melatonin is produced in greater quantities when it’s dark and serotonin is produced in greater quantities when a person is exposed to sunlight.

Shorter days and longer hours of darkness in the fall and winter may cause decreased levels of serotonin and increased levels of melatonin, creates the biological conditions for depression. Hence, increased production of melatonin can cause a person to feel lethargic and sleepy, while low levels of serotonin is associated with depression. Thus increasing one’s light exposures increases the availability of serotonin helps to ward off depression.

Now for Some Holistic Treatments for Seasonal Depression

Now that you have a good understanding about seasonal affective disorder, it is time to reveal some of the natural cures that can assist an individual have a better fall and winter season.

Bright Light Therapy

Most artificial light cannot replace natural light that occurs in nature. Intensity of light is measured in a unit called a lux. A sunny afternoon can be up to100, 000 lux, and even on cloudy days there is approximately 10,000 lux of natural light coming from Mother Nature. Whereas the electric light used in a workplaces and homes is about 500 lux. Hence, short, cold, wintry days mean that most people are deprived of natural sunlight. Researchers have discovered that at least 2,500 lux of light to suppress melatonin production within humans.

Researchers urge people with SAD to sit under a bright light for 30 minutes daily from October through April. Implementing light therapy for seasonal affective disorders is done by sending light through the eyes so that it reaches and triggers the pineal gland.  Most bright light therapy produces 5,000 lux of light however, most doctors and researchers recommends a 10,000 lux lamp. The bright light that I purchased only illuminates 5,000 lux however; I use it longer than 30 minutes a day.

 At least 15 medical centers and clinics have had success with light therapy in patients with histories of SAD for several years.  Improvement is usually observed within the first week of using the bright light therapy.  However, the light therapy is something that is required throughout the duration of one’s symptoms.  In other words, an individual cannot use the light a few weeks and then be cured.  The bright light therapy must be used consistently until the outdoor light is sufficient to maintain a good mood and high energy.   Light specialists theorizes that “mal-illumination”  (lack of sufficient daylight) may be the reason for common disorders like fatigue, depression, skin damage, suppressed immune function, and sleep problems.  

Additional Holistic Treatments for Seasonal Depression (S.A.D.)

Buy Negative Ion and Dawn Simulation Devices

Negative Ion Therapy

This treatment involves a device that works by releasing a negative ion, a molecule that contains an extra electron and is used for air cleaning. These ions cling to the dirt, which is positively charged, and settle down, making the air cleaner like fresh air after a thunderstorm. In nature, these negatively charged particles are created by the sun, wind, moving water, etc. Researchers have found that having these devices in the proximity of the SAD sufferer helps reduce the irritation and depression, while improving their energy level

Dawn Simulation

The New York State Psychiatric Institute performed a study to find the effect of dawn and dusk conditions on SAD. A computer was used to simulate the gradual appearance of d awn and the gradual disappearance of light in the evening characteristic of spring. Results showed that SAD sufferers reported substantial improvement, as good as following the full photo therapy. Blood tests revealed that the dawn simulation resulted in cutting off the production of melatonin and restoring of the circadian rhythm. When exposed to the artificial dusk simulation, the patients were also able to get a good deep night’s sleep.

Herbal Medicine for S.A.D.

As you may know herbal remedies can be use when one is seeking the natural way of healing through naturopathy.  Needless to say, there are natural herbs that can assist in making an individual feel better and assist to uplift one’s mood. 

Borage – This herb is a natural antidepressant that is rich in potassium and is said to be a great remedy for melancholy, pensiveness, and sadness.  The juice for the borage leaves stimulates the glandular system which helps to overcome the ‘feeling of the blues.’  Consumption of the leaves are seeds are said to make one feel stimulated, energized, ad renewed with as zest for live.

Lemon Balm – A member of the mint family can be used in a tea or as an aromatherapy essential oil to help relieve that apathetic, lethargic feeling that comes with depression.  Lemon balm has a calming aroma and offers an uplifting of one’s spirit and provides a sense of well- being.

St. John’s Wort -  St. John’s Wort  is an herbal flower that has been through more than  30 clinical studies according to the WebMd and states that there is some scientific evidence that this herb is helpful in treating mild to moderate depression.  While this herb does gently restore you back to your old self again, it can have harmful side effects when taken with antidepressants and or is not used properly. So be sure to research and seek herbal advice if you have not used this herb before.

Sunlight helps to keep a healthy mind, body and spirit
Sunlight helps to keep a healthy mind, body and spirit


In conclusion to Holistic Treatments for Seasonal Depression, I think it is important to note that many of the lamps can be carried with you when traveling just look for the ones that stay they can be used for portable light therapy. That way you can continue to enjoy your sense of well being even when away from home for days at a time.

Perhaps you do not suffer from seasonal affective disorder, however would love to be able to relax and be less stressful during the holiday season. My hub on Holistic Healing Benefits of Therapeutic Essential Oils provides information on how to use essential oils for relaxation. Also you might light to try using brighter lights in your home during the winter months just to add a little extra light in order to lighten everyone's mood.

Remember that spiritual healers see the mind, body, and spirit as one interdependent unit and believe all three must work in harmony to maintain positive healthy lifestyle. So an issue of depression needs the power of healing to restore the balance to the whole person. Needless to say, bright light therapy can assist in restoring balance to an individual in order for the holistic healing process to begin from within.


Disclaimer: This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Before engaging in any complementary medical technique, including the use of natural or herbal remedies, you should do your own research, and then consult your present physician or find a reputable doctor, TCM specialist, certified herbalist or naturopathist familiar with alternative medicines that can assist you in deciding what treatments might meet your specific needs.


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    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      7 years ago from Texas

      @waes-hael and Daphne - Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts on seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I must agree with your post, there are holistic treatments for depression. I have been using valium for too long and it makes me even sicker. Until a friend told me to switch to holistic treatments. It is hard but it is worth it. Now, I am getting ok.

      I read that holistic treatment actually varies.

    • waes-hael profile image


      7 years ago from The Netherlands

      Great hub.

      I own a Philips goLITE BLU energy lamp, it helps me through the winter months. I live in a rather gloomy climate. I even used it last summer since the summer of 2011 was like autumn here in terms of temperature and the amount of sunshine. Herbal supplements seem to work for me too.

    • profile image

      Lyra Carillet 

      7 years ago

      I admire the valuable information you offer in your hub. I will bookmark your hub. I am quite sure they will learn lots of new stuff here than anybody else!

    • ThompsonPen profile image

      Nicola Thompson 

      7 years ago from Bellingham, WA

      When I moved to the UK which I experienced SAD. I realized it was because it was just slightly higher latitude than where I grew up. There were a lot of other contributing factors as well. But I was really worried. I really appreciate this article, and how you went into the depths of what Seasonal depression actually is. Another thing I learned really helps is bananas and bran and oats. I started making sure that was in my regular diet and it did a world of good.

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      7 years ago from Texas

      Hi Larry, I agree that exercise is very important in assisting one's body to heal. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your insight. :)

    • Larry Fields profile image

      Larry Fields 

      7 years ago from Northern California

      Hi Money Glitch,

      Voted up. You've covered most of the bases. However no discussion of holistic approaches is complete without mentioning exercise. And it's not necessary to train for marathons, or to pahmp eye-on, like our former Governator.

      My mental functioning is strongly affected by the seasons, among other things. And it's not just a matter of Summer vs Winter. An optimal amount of lower-body strength training makes a noticeable difference for me. I throw in some walking (or Trikking) when I feel the need. And when I can get up early enough, I enjoy day-hikes in the Northern Sierra during the Summer months.

      Cheers, Larry

    • heliaqu profile image


      7 years ago

      "I lost motivation in my work, everything in my life seemed dull and i couldn't fall asleep at night because of being paranoid or worried. After using hfl solutions i am now more productive and i feel as if i have better control over my life. I am now motivated to travel and have an urge to discover"

    • graveyard-rose profile image

      Heather Marie 

      8 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Great hub. SAD sucks!

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      Hi Mike, You are welcome. Thanks for stopping by,commenting, and sharing your thoughts. :)

    • Mikejarl profile image


      8 years ago

      Hi Money Glitch,

      Thanks for the great article. We need more people like you sharing the benefits of Alternative/natural medicine.

      We need to put all our efforts together to protect our rights to natural health.

      Please join our global effort on holisticbay, a simple search on google should take you there.


    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      Thanks eatabean, for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and insights on holistic treatments for seasonal depression. :)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Bright light treatment is very popular here in Scandinavia. Nice article, thanks for sharing. Depression is no fun for anyone!

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      @IzzyM - ROFL, now Izzy, Hehehe!:) I can't stop laughing. However, seriously, I hope you can find a place where you can get at least 30 minutes of bright light daily, because it will make a big difference especially in the winter months. Because if you become depressed from dealing with SAD, he might have to go...:( Go luck to you!

      @TheListLady - Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and I agree that outside sunlight is the best whenever you can have access to it. Thanks for spreading the word. :)

    • TheListLady profile image


      8 years ago from New York City

      The bright light therapy is wonderful - and it works. Thanks so much for such a well done and thorough hub. There are so many options other than a toxic pill. We just don't get outside and get sun but we can't ignore the consequences.

      I appreciate all the information - I can share it.

      Rated up for sure!

    • IzzyM profile image


      8 years ago from UK

      I think I'm developing SAD as I never see the sun thanks to sitting at the comp all day and night, and my partner has an eye disorder and can't stand bight lights to he keeps the blinds down during the day, and the night lights in our house are so dark you can barely see the floor. He'll just have to go!!

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      @Artoflegendindia - Thanks for stopping by and commenting. :)

      @prasetio30 - Hi prasetio, I so glad that I've talk my 'teaching' friend something new. :) Thanks for the read, bookmarking, and the rating. :)

    • prasetio30 profile image


      8 years ago from malang-indonesia

      All the treatments are new for me. Technology has a big role in most of these treatment. I got new knowledge by reading this hub. I'll bookmark this one. Thank you very much. Vote up.


    • profile image


      8 years ago

      great hub. liked your hub. Your hub is very informative.

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      I don't think so schoolgirl, the people that I know only have the depression symptoms of SAD during the winter months due to the dark, cold, rainy days and not getting enough sunlight. The rest of the year they are fine and free from depression. However, I guess if one is prone to depression it can happen at anytime. Thanks for the read. :)

    • schoolgirlforreal profile image


      8 years ago

      I'm gonna guess that most people with SAD already suffer with depression. ?

      Good information! Thanks Money

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      @maruthirp - Hi maruthirp, thanks for sharing your experience with SAD. Glad to hear that you have recovered. :)

      @drej2522 - Hey dre, sunlight is definitely the preferred way to avoid SAD, however, unless you are in a place that is sunny all the time, it's difficult to do sometimes. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. :)

    • drej2522 profile image


      8 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Bright light therapy for seasonal depression...hmm...I just might use this method for whenever I'm sad, period. I just like the sun, so why not use it when I'm feeling down!

      Thumbs up, Money Glitch!

    • maruthirp profile image


      8 years ago from Hyderabad

      Oh! very long hub. But i found it great as being a man suffered with depression. I had gone under bright light therapy for quite some while in the past which worked well to recover sooner.

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      @gr82bme - Hi gr82bme, now you know a what to do...More sunshine and if not at least increase the light in your home. Good luck to you this winter.

      @LeanMan - Thanks for stopping by and showing your support LeanMan. :)

    • LeanMan profile image


      8 years ago from At the Gemba

      Thankfully I never suffer from anything like this, but great tips for those that do.

    • gr82bme profile image


      8 years ago from USA

      Great job. I get depressed every winter. Thanks for the info. Will rate up.

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      @2besure - So, glad to hear that you've found a remedy for treating SAD. I know one individual that moved from DC to Texas just to overcome seasonal affective disorder. Thanks for stopping by. :)

      @anglnwu - Hi anglnwu, I like the cold weather as long as I don't have to get out in it. :) But, like you I really love the sunshine. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. :)

    • anglnwu profile image


      8 years ago

      Winter is my least favorite season, not just because of the cold but the shorter days. I love sunlight and understand why SAD is so rampant at this time of the year. Great tips on how to deal with SAD--rated useful.

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      I agree Sa'ge adding color to your wardrobe, home, office, and everywhere definitely does make one feel better in the winter. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. :)

    • 2besure profile image

      Pamela Lipscomb 

      8 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      I used to get seasonal depression a long time ago. I heard that holistic method works well.

    • Sa`ge profile image


      8 years ago from Barefoot Island

      from the end of fall to the end of winter color starts to vanish from our surroundings. People even start to wear duller darker clothes. All this adds to the depression. Color in our lives is more then 50% of our joy in life. This is why the spring brings so much joy into people. As the colors start to return, so do the smiles on peoples faces. If you want to feel more joy in the winter, besides those lights add more bright colors to your clothes, your rooms, your office, your home. I come from a place with color all year. When I went to a place with less color, I became depressed, when I figured it out and added bright colors, I felt so much better! color and light together will work much faster on a persons psyche. ~aloha~

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      @katiem2 - The light therapy will definitely help Katie. I know that they appear to be costly, however, they last a long time without having to replace the bulb. And I shutter to think how much a therapist would cost and how much ware and tare I would be feeling 3 years later, if I had not invested in one of these lighting units. If money is tight then tell your friend to get the brightest bulbs (at least 100 watts or above) she can afford and use then throughout the home. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. :)

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      @K9keystrokes - Hi K9 thanks for sharing your family member's experience with SAD. I agree it does make for a long winter and a bad head trip, when you don't know why you are suffering from the symptoms. This will be my 3rd winter season with my therapy lighting and I look forward to enjoying the season. Thanks for the read and sharing. :)

      @bayoulady - Hi bayoulady, the melatonin that I spoke of was concerning the natural balances within your body. You might want to ask a specialist before trying melatonin, unless you are having trouble sleeping at night. This hub was about light therapy versus supplements. But, you know I will probably research the supplements as well. Thanks for the read and sharing your experience. :)

    • katiem2 profile image


      8 years ago from I'm outta here

      Perfect timing, I was just talking to a friend the other day and she said she was feeling really sad and blue as if she had just experienced a death of a close and beloved friend, I ask why, she said it's that time of year, I get blue every year around this time. I'm sharing this holistic treatments for seasonal Depression with her and many other. Great help for us all during a stress fast paced time of year.

    • bayoulady profile image


      8 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA

      Great info!I just wrote about SAD on a comment I made 2 or 3 days ago.I was diagnosed with SAD a long time ago. Now I take a seritonium re-uptake starting in Sept. through March, get out in sunshine every day and keep as much natural sunlight in the room as possible. I know some people think that closed drapes and dim lights are cozy, but it is dreary and depressing to me, now that I know how to keep the SAD wolf at bay! Gotta try the melatonium!

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 

      8 years ago from Northern, California

      This is nothing to mess with and is as real as real can get. Winter can bring on such a state of depression for suffers that it can be a very long 'head trip' back to normal. Holistic Treatments for Seasonal Depression has offered really good results for my cousin. She uses the special "LUX lighting therapy" regularly to keep her in a healthy state of mind. This is a very special topic and wonderful information, thanks for taking it on!


    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      @viking305 - Hi viking, I agree with you that to get through any type of depression can be a difficult one without having the right advice, support, and knowledge. You know for years women were told, "Oh it's just all in your head." Thanks for stopping by and commenting. :)

      @nifty@50 - You are so right nifty, that Alaska does have a very high suicide rate, however, it is not discussed much. Thanks for the read. :)

    • nifty@50 profile image


      8 years ago

      The state of Alaska has very high suicide rates for this very reason! In the winter there are very short daylight hours. Great hub!

    • viking305 profile image

      L M Reid 

      8 years ago from Ireland

      At least seasonal depression is recognised now as an illness so treatment is available. Any depression is hard to get through so the more advice, support and knowledge out there the better. Very interesting and well researched hub.

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      @wavegirl - Hi wavegirl, it's great that you recognize the symptoms and have figured out a way to manage them when the SAD starts occuring. I just bet that the lights from your plants helps to ease some of the symptoms also. Always happy to have one of my favorite 60dc2 hubbers to stop by and comment as well. Thanks! :)

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      @jasper420 - Hi Jasper, thanks for stopping by and commenting such kind words. :)

      @Alison - Hi Alison, thanks for sharing your testimony, the idea of being able to walk the dogs and be in natural sunlight is a great one. I was surprise to read how much of a difference there is between the lighting in one's home and natural light. Thanks for stopping by. :)

    • wavegirl22 profile image


      8 years ago from New York, NY

      I must admit I am a victim of seasonal depression. I know just the thought of winter coming is enough to put me in a bad mood. The death of winter is what I call it. And I know I am the perfect candidate for light therapy. The other thing that helps me is that come Jan I start planning my garden, just looking at seeds in magazines helps. And then I start my garden indoors using plant lights.

      As always a cutting edge topic from one of my favorite 60dc2 Hubbers.

    • Alison Graham profile image

      Alison Graham 

      8 years ago from UK

      You have put a great deal of research into this excellent hub which I have found very helpful. I used to suffer quite badly from SAD in the winter months in UK until I retired and got out of the office - now that I am able to get out in daylight all year round, walking the dogs, I have been a lot better but I will be checking out your hub on therapeutic essential oils, thank you.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      great topic and good writing very usefull info i suffer from depreshion and i found this hub to be accurate and intresting


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