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


This photo shows Link about to do battle with the SAD monster.

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 some ideas and tips for treating SAD that our Online Coaching Clients use. Right this moment, 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 way of a tricky time. For those who (or somebody ) aren’t coping so effectively, PLEASE see the links at the bottom of this article with some sources from all world wide. Clearly, we suggest discussing this info together with your well being skilled – none of this can be a analysis, however slightly a place to begin for dialogue.

BUT, armed with the precise weapons, we will beat back the winter monster, and even maintain 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:

  • Winter despair
  • Winter blues
  • Seasonal despair.

In a nutshell, SAD makes folks with ‘regular’ mental health expertise depressive signs at a selected time annually – most frequently winter.

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

SAD could be a merciless, highly effective, and damaging arctic foe.

However armed with the precise weapons, we will beat back the winter monster, and even maintain 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 little bit glum in winter…it’s pure to really feel a little bit down.

Chilly mornings, much less time outdoors, 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 a little bit. 

We’ve identified one thing was up for the reason that sixth century, however SAD remained a legendary creature till the Eighties within the West when it grew to become formally acknowledged as a temper dysfunction. Whereas 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. Wanting world wide, in Oslo, Norway, round 14% of the inhabitants will likely be impacted by SAD,[2] whereas us fortunate buggers Down Below are barely impacted in any respect, with estimates that solely round 1 in 300 Aussies (0.33%)[3] will expertise SAD throughout the “winter.”

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

Sure, SAD can happen for some folks throughout summer season and different seasons, however that is significantly uncommon in comparison with winter prevalence.

Frequent SAD signs embrace:

  • low temper for a lot of the day.
  • lack of curiosity in your ordinary 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 ordinary, particularly craving sugar and carbohydrates, resulting in weight acquire.
  • lack of curiosity in stuff you usually get pleasure from doing.
  • intrusive or disturbing ideas.

Despair isn’t just a elaborate phrase for feeling “bummed out”, and SAD is simply as severe as another despair and must be handled promptly and successfully. (See the top of the article for a list of mental health services links.)

“However how do I do know the distinction between normal 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 are 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 simply normally get pleasure from?”
  • “Have you ever felt this manner for greater than two weeks?”

If that’s the case, then it could possibly be time to have a chat with knowledgeable and maybe search remedy. 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 find out how we will slay the SAD, and even higher, maintain it in hibernation this yr, so we nerds can proceed to overcome all yr spherical.

What’s the greatest remedy 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 every harm or sickness boss battle, you’ll want to use the precise medication weapon to save lots of the day. And there are lots of weapons you’ll be able to equip your self with to slay SAD.

Right here is find out 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 gentle is greatest, though it’s not at all times simple. If the solar occurs to be peeking out from the clouds, attempt to get outdoors for a pleasant stroll. Even on chilly or cloudy days, out of doors gentle may also help, significantly within the morning. Simply be sure to bundle up correctly. The Norwegians have a saying “There is no such thing as a unhealthy climate, solely unhealthy clothes!”

Additionally, making your work and residential environments as gentle and ethereal as attainable and sitting close to home windows may also help too. 

A gif of someone opening a window to help with SAD

For those who really feel you’re simply merely not capable of get sufficient pure gentle, ‘Gentle Remedy’ is usually one of many first weapons picked as much as slay SAD.[5] It might begin assuaging signs in just some days. It’s extremely easy, and sitting beneath vibrant fluorescent globes or in entrance of a therapy lamp (once more, significantly 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 rising the wattage of her bed room gentle globes).

Be forewarned that Gentle Remedy shouldn’t be applicable for everybody, together with folks with bipolar dysfunction – discuss to knowledgeable if this can be a route you wish to take.


Shock, shock, our outdated buddies come to the rescue as soon as once more. It’s clear[7] that train is vital in retaining the blues at bay, so rug up and take a long walk, and remember 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 forms of bodily exercise assist relieve stress and nervousness, each of which may improve SAD signs.

For those who’re actually eager to tackle winter, attempt the Winter Is Coming Workoutand begin constructing that summer season physique early. For individuals who don’t just like the freezing climate, that’s cool (get it?), you’ll be able to at all times do Steve’s 20-minute hotel room workout (professional tip: you don’t truly must 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 is no such thing as a 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 typically despair.[8]

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

Plus, Steve has already highlighted that when 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. Strive your greatest to offer a counterbalance to these consolation meals, and maintain your weight loss program 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 is crucial for general well being. Our buddies over at Examine say that in case your weight loss program 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 little bit combined in the case of 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). Total, when you aren’t getting sufficient daylight within the winter, contemplate 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 together with your physician is an effective 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 reside within the mountains:

Aang from the Last Airbender meditating

However when you’re affected by the winter blues, a simple mindfulness practice could assist. Even just some minutes a day can go a great distance.

If you’d like, Nerd Health Journey has a meditation journey that will help you construct up the behavior.

It’s free to attempt, proper right here:


Going again to international 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 e-book.
  • Or sitting by a heat hearth.

Garfield sitting by fire

So as an alternative of lamenting the change of seasons – EMBRACE these different experiences that we get to get pleasure from.


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

Psychotherapy focuses on serving to you to construct abilities to cope with the stresses in your life, together with figuring out and altering destructive pondering patterns.

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

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

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

However having a coach to speak by way of your destructive 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. Actually, the “bizarre” stigma is normally the most important barrier to even doing the factor within the first place!


Lastly, some folks 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 when you assume remedy could help you.

Transferring ahead with SAD (This too shall cross)

A picture of Link in the sun, who overcame SAD

It’s regular to have some days whenever 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 frequent. However when you really feel down for days at a time and you’ll’t get motivated to do actions you usually get pleasure from, please communicate to somebody and see your physician. That is particularly essential in case your sleep patterns and urge for food have modified, you are feeling a way of hopelessness, you’ve got intrusive ideas, otherwise you flip to alcohol/substances for consolation or rest.

Above all, deal with your self this winter: 

  • You should definitely get sufficient relaxation, and take the time to loosen up.
  • Take part in an exercise program or interact in one other type of regular physical activity.
  • Get outdoors when you’ll be able to.
  • Make healthy choices for meals and snacks when attainable.
  • Attain out to a trusted pal, 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, keep in mindWe’re Rebels, we battle standard knowledge and smash stigmas. By no means go away a fellow nerd behind.

The Rock saying "we have to do this together"

For those who really feel the bitter, arctic beast beginning to rise from its summer season slumber, keep in mind that you’re not alone, and there are methods to slay the frosty fiend. You’re robust sufficient to beat this, and your entire Riot has your again.

Need a little bit extra from us?

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

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

You may schedule a free name with our workforce so we will get to know you and see if our teaching program is best for you. Simply click on on the button under for extra particulars:

#2) If you’d like a precise roadmap for getting match, try NF Journey. Our enjoyable habit-building app helps you train extra steadily, eat more healthy, and stage up your life (actually).

Plus, we’ve Missions particularly designed that will help you keep lively, it doesn’t matter what the climate is like outdoors.

Strive your free trial proper right here:

#3) Be a part of the Riot! We want good folks such as you in our neighborhood, the Nerd Health Riot.

Join within the field under to enlist and get our Insurgent Starter Equipment, which incorporates all of our “work out at dwelling” guides, the Nerd Health Food plan Cheat Sheet, and rather more!

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

Do you’ve got your personal 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 – For those who, or somebody , would really like additional help, listed here are some glorious hyperlinks and providers that may get you began in the precise path:


Photograph supply: lilu330 © 123RF.com

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