Blog How To Treat Seasonal Affective Disorder

How To Treat Seasonal Affective Disorder

a person sitting on a bench during the winter time with a jacket and their hands in their pockets seemingly being effected by seasonal affective disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a form of depression most prominent in the fall and winter months when the amount of daylight is shortest. The lack of daylight can disrupt our internal clocks and lead to feelings of depression. It can also reduce the amounts of melatonin and serotonin within the body, affecting sleep and mood. The good news is there are several ways to treat seasonal affective disorder.

Light Box Therapy

Starting light box therapy in the autumn at the first signs of shortened daylight may be particularly useful in preventing further symptoms of SAD during the winter months. Light box therapy mimics outdoor light through broad-spectrum ultraviolet light. Sitting in front of a light box for 30 minutes a day can have great benefits. Light boxes are available online, or through other stores and range widely in price.

Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercises stimulate the release of endorphins and other “feel-good chemicals” that play a pivotal role in mood regulation. Running, cycling, swimming, these activities improve circulation and deliver oxygen to the brain, aiding in mood stabilization and reducing the severity of SAD symptoms. In fact, aerobic exercise may be the most effective method to immediately improve mood and sleep.


Sleep plays an important role in the treatment of seasonal affective disorder. Our sleep patterns are intimately tied to our circadian rhythms, which govern our sleep-wake cycle and mood regulation. It influences the production and regulation of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and melatonin. A regular sleep routine will reduce fatigue, improve energy levels, and enhance cognitive functioning, all of which are negatively affected by SAD.


As with depression, it can help to have someone to talk through your feelings with. A qualified therapist can help in several ways, including:

  • Teaching you healthy ways to cope with your symptoms and healthy habits that reduce the impact of your seasonal depression.
  • Identifying and altering behaviors that may be making you feel worse.
  • Developing the skills to better manage your stress.
  • Building a lifestyle around healthier behaviors such as exercise or diet.

Various Self-Care Activities

In addition to the above treatments, it can help to incorporate various self-care routines into your day. You may also want to look at some strategies for dealing with depression over the holidays. Some that may have a positive impact on SAD include:

  • Making your home environment generally brighter.
  • Spending more time outside during daylight hours.
  • Getting regular exercise.
  • Normalizing your sleep.

Schedule An Appointment For SAD

Seasonal Affective Disorder is real and can have a significant impact on your life. If you’re experiencing the symptoms of SAD it can help to talk with a qualified therapist. Contact us and make your appointment today!