HomeHealth & FitnessWhat's Seasonal Affective Disorder? (Defeating SAD!)

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

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 Disorder.

Luckily, we’ve some suggestions and tips for treating SAD that our Online Coaching Clients use. Today, we’ll share them with you too.

Here’s what we’ll cowl:

Disclaimer: We’re going to be discussing some points that could be tough for some going by means of a tricky time. If you (or somebody you realize) aren’t coping so nicely, PLEASE see the links at the bottom of this article with some assets from all world wide. Obviously, we suggest discussing this data along with your well being skilled – none of it is a analysis, however slightly a place to begin for dialogue.

BUT, armed with the proper weapons, we are able to chase away the winter monster, and even hold it in full hibernation.

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

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

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

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

It’s often known as:

  • Winter despair
  • Winter blues
  • Seasonal despair.

In a nutshell, SAD makes individuals with ‘normal’ mental health expertise depressive signs at a particular time annually – most frequently winter.

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

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

But armed with the proper weapons, we are able to chase away the winter monster, and even hold 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 a bit of glum in winter…it’s pure to really feel a bit of down.

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

A gif of an RV outside

So for lots of us, winter simply sucks a bit of. 

We’ve identified one thing was up for the reason that sixth century, however SAD remained a legendary creature till the Nineteen Eighties within the West when it turned formally acknowledged as a temper dysfunction. While we’re nonetheless not 100% certain 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. Looking world wide, in Oslo, Norway, round 14% of the inhabitants might be impacted by SAD,[2] whereas us fortunate buggers Down Under are barely impacted in any respect, with estimates that solely round 1 in 300 Aussies (0.33%)[3] will expertise SAD through the “winter.”

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

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

Common SAD signs embrace:

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

Depression is not only a flowery phrase for feeling “bummed out”, and SAD is simply as critical as every other despair and must be handled promptly and successfully. (See the tip of the article for a list of mental health services links.)

“But how do I know the difference between general winter glumness, or if I’m being mauled by the SAD beast like Leo in the Revenant?”

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

Ask your self these questions:

  • “Do you feel like you can’t get yourself out of this rut?”
  • “Have you lost an interest in things that you usually enjoy?”
  • “Have you felt this way for more than two weeks?”

If so, then it might be time to have a chat with knowledgeable and maybe search remedy. Once once more, SAD is simply as actual and might be simply as devastating as Major Depressive Disorder; the one distinction is the yearly common onset.

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

So let’s find out how we are able to slay the SAD, and even higher, hold it in hibernation this 12 months, so we nerds can proceed to overcome all 12 months spherical.

What is the perfect remedy for Seasonal Affective Disorder? (Slaying the SAD Beast)

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

As with any damage or sickness boss battle, that you must use the proper medication weapon to avoid wasting the day. And there are a lot of weapons you’ll be able to equip your self with to slay SAD.

Here is how you can deal with Seasonal Affective Disorder: 


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

Starting with pure gentle is greatest, although it’s not all the time straightforward. 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 gentle can assist, notably within the morning. Just ensure you bundle up correctly. The Norwegians have a saying “There is no bad weather, only bad clothing!”

Also, making your work and residential environments as gentle and ethereal as attainable and sitting close to home windows can assist too. 

A gif of someone opening a window to help with SAD

If you’re feeling you’re simply merely not capable of get sufficient pure gentle, ‘Light Therapy’ is usually one of many first weapons picked as much as slay SAD.[5] It can begin assuaging signs in only a few days. It’s extremely easy, and sitting underneath vibrant fluorescent globes or in entrance of a therapy lamp (once more, notably within the morning) has proven to be efficient towards SAD[6] (Anecdotal, however I as soon as met a younger girl who began to really feel higher simply by rising the wattage of her bed room gentle globes).

Be forewarned that Light Therapy is just not acceptable for everybody, together with individuals with bipolar dysfunction – discuss to knowledgeable if it is a route you need to take.


Surprise, shock, our outdated mates come to the rescue as soon as once more. It’s clear[7] that train is vital in preserving the blues at bay, so rug up and take a long walk, and make sure 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.

Exercise and different kinds of bodily exercise assist relieve stress and nervousness, each of which may improve SAD signs.

If you’re actually eager to tackle winter, strive the Winter Is Coming Workoutand begin constructing that summer season physique early. For those that 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 hotel room workout (professional tip: you don’t truly have to be staying in a lodge room to do the exercise… that was $250 I’ll by no means get again).

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

So something we are able to do to eat wholesome this time of 12 months could actually assist.

Plus, Steve has already highlighted that in the event you’re going to eat unhealthy meals throughout winter, let’s not less than be good about it and negate the affect the holidays have on our waistlines. Try your greatest to supply a counterbalance to these consolation meals, and hold your weight-reduction plan as shut as you’ll be able to to what it’s the remainder of the 12 months.


When publicity to daylight is low, your physique makes much less Vitamin D.[9] According to this research,[10] Vitamin D deficiency impacts practically HALF of the world inhabitants. It is essential for total well being. Our mates over at Examine say that in case your weight-reduction plan is first rate and there’s just one complement you’re taking, it ought to in all probability be Vitamin D throughout these upcoming months.

The analysis is a bit of combined in relation 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). Overall, in the event you aren’t getting sufficient daylight within the winter, think about selecting up some Vitamin D!

Recommendations differ for the quantity of Vitamin D wanted – or in the event you even want it – so additional blood work and a chat along with your physician is an efficient selection 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

But in the event you’re affected by the winter blues, a simple mindfulness practice could assist. Even only a few minutes a day can go a great distance.

If you need, Nerd Fitness Journey has a meditation journey that can assist you construct up the behavior.

It’s free to strive, proper right here:


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

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

Things like:

  • Wrapping your self up in a blanket.
  • Enjoying a very good e book.
  • 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.


Talk Therapy (Psychotherapy) and cognitive behavioral remedy sound scary however actually aren’t.

Psychotherapy focuses on serving to you to construct expertise to take care of the stresses in your life, together with figuring out and altering unfavorable considering patterns.

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

(You can learn the Nerd Fitness Guide to Mental Health for more information.)

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

But having a coach to speak by means of your unfavorable ideas and emotions, somebody who can train you to handle these higher, is usually fairly efficient.

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


Finally, some individuals with SAD profit from antidepressant remedy, particularly if signs are extreme. We’re not right here to supply any medical recommendation, so please see your physician in the event you assume remedy could help you.

Moving ahead with SAD (This too shall cross)

A picture of Link in the sun, who overcame SAD

It’s regular to have some days once you really feel down, and the vacation season might be particularly onerous for some.

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

Above all, deal with your self this winter: 

  • Be certain to get sufficient relaxation, and take the time to calm down.
  • Participate in an exercise program or interact in one other type of regular physical activity.
  • Get exterior when you’ll be able to.
  • Make healthy choices for meals and snacks when attainable.
  • Reach out to a trusted pal, member of the family, or well being skilled in the event you really feel you’re having a tricky time.

And if somebody reaches out to you, bear in mindWe are Rebels, we combat typical knowledge and smash stigmas. Never depart a fellow nerd behind.

The Rock saying "we have to do this together"

If you’re feeling the bitter, arctic beast beginning to rise from its summer season slumber, bear in mind that you’re not alone, and there are methods to slay the frosty fiend. You are sturdy sufficient to beat this, and all the Rebellion has your again.

Want a bit of extra from us?

If you need to proceed your journey with Nerd Fitness, we’ve three nice methods for you to take action:

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

You can schedule a free name with our staff so we are able to get to know you and see if our teaching program is best for you. Just click on on the button under for extra particulars:

#2) If you need a precise roadmap for getting match, take a look at NF Journey. Our enjoyable habit-building app helps you train extra often, eat more healthy, and stage up your life (actually).

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

Try your free trial proper right here:

#3) Join the Rebellion! We want good individuals such as you in our neighborhood, the Nerd Fitness Rebellion.

Sign up within the field under to enlist and get our Rebel Starter Kit, which incorporates all of our “work out at home” guides, the Nerd Fitness Diet Cheat Sheet, and way more!

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

Do you could have 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! Let us know within the feedback!

– Dan

PS – If you, or somebody you realize, would really like additional help, listed below are some wonderful hyperlinks and companies that can get you began in the proper path:


Photo supply: lilu330 © 123RF.com



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