Every year, as the days get shorter and darker, some people will experience lower baseline moods, weight gain, low energy, and persistent fatigue (1,2,3). While 15% of people will experience mild cases of seasonal depression, up to 3% will develop full-blown seasonal affective disorder (SAD) (1,2,3,4).
Scientists are not exactly sure what causes seasonal depression, but the variation in light we receive throughout the year is a potential cause (2,3).
Here are a couple of things that have been proven to help with seasonal depression symptoms (3,4,6,7,8):
- Keep your curtains open to allow natural light into the room.
- Sit, work, or train close to windows.
- Use light therapy.
- Spend more time outside during daylight.
- Eat a balanced diet and exercise.
- Medication and/or counseling.
However, there is no compelling evidence that melatonin, St. John’s wort, vitamin B12, Ginkgo biloba, and vitamin D supplements can alleviate seasonal depression symptoms (4,9,10,11,12,13,14,15).
If you still wish to try supplements for your seasonal depression, consult your pharmacist first to avoid potential interactions with medications, which can be risky (16,17).
Just because seasonal depression only lasts a few months per year doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t seek support. Seasonal depression is a recognized type of depression that can be very serious. Don’t hesitate to talk to a healthcare professional if you notice any seasonal changes in your appetite, sleep, mood, or motivation. They can help you rule out other explanations for symptoms and discuss treatment options with you (4,7).
Do you or a loved one experience seasonal depression? If so, check out the resources below and consider talking to your doctor.