Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), sometimes known as ‘winter depression’, is a mood disorder that features depressive symptoms that fluctuate with the seasons. It affects up to one in three people in the UK and North America each year.
SAD can cause a person to feel hopeless, lacking in energy, worthless, guilty and to find it difficult to enjoy everyday activities or to experience pleasure. If you, or someone you love, suffers from SAD in the darker and colder months, there are steps you can take to treat the symptoms.
From taking seasonal affective disorder supplements to employing some mood-boosting diet hacks, there are things you can do to stay positive as the seasons change and to avoid the winter blues. Read on to find out which vitamins, herbs, spices and supplements could help to boost your mood and lift seasonal depression:
SAD affects people during the darker months of the year when days are shorter, cloud cover is more prevalent and there is a dearth of sunshine compared with the warmer months. This lack of sunshine contributes to the sudden drop in vitamin D levels that many people experience at this time of year.
Copious amounts of research suggest that depleted levels of vitamin D - and vitamin D3 specifically - in the body at this time of year may have a direct impact on serotonin levels in the brain and thus either cause SAD or exacerbate symptoms of underlying depression so that it becomes aggravated by the shift in season.
Vitamin D deficiency is rife in much of the world, but particularly in the northern hemisphere. One study that involved 2070 people in England concluded that vitamin D deficiency is most closely associated with seasonal depression in countries north of the equator.
Several studies support the suggestion that vitamin D plays a fundamental role in mood regulation and in keeping depression at bay. An overwhelming majority of the studies that have delved into the link between vitamin D and mood have found that those suffering from SAD, depression and other mood disorders who supplemented with vitamin D reported an improvement in their symptoms.
Vitamin D plays an important role in mood regulation regardless of age: one study conducted in the Netherlands focused on adults aged 65 and over who were experiencing major or minor depression or seasonal depressive episodes. Scientists found a correlation between low levels of blood vitamin D and more pronounced symptoms.
LYMA contains a patented and peer-reviewed Vita-algae D3™️. Vita-algae D3™️ is scientifically backed for its potency and unlike most vitamin D sources is completely vegetarian-friendly. Adults with vitamin D deficiency who were given a clinical daily dose of 2,000 i.u.of vitamin D3, as formulated in the LYMA formula, saw an improvement in their depressive symptoms after two months.
LYMA also contains KSM-66® Ashwagandha which has been clinically proven to boost mood in otherwise healthy adults.
Ashwagandha is a powerful mood-enhancing adaptogen and works by nourishing the brain, regulating stress hormones, and balancing the nervous system. Supplementing with ashwagandha has been shown to regulate serotonin and melatonin levels and to help modulate innate stress response.
Serotonin regulation has been widely studied for its relationship to SAD. One study into the effect of serotonin imbalance on mood used PET scan technology to demonstrate that women with SAD had significantly increased serotonin during the winter months compared with women who did not suffer from seasonal affective disorder.
Melatonin’s relationship to SAD has been similarly studied. Melatonin levels in the human body fluctuate depending on time of day, time of month and time of year. Melatonin is most commonly known for its sleep-signalling potential, but the hormone is also used by the brain to regulate emotional and psychological processes in the body. Scientists have found that people who suffer from SAD are much more likely to have low levels of this neurotransmitter. Ashwagandha can help to regulate melatonin levels and thus improve mood (this is also, incidentally, part of the reason that ashwagandha can be so effective at aiding sleep in those suffering from insomnia).
Scientists have also demonstrated ashwagandha’s ability to encourage and promote the formation of dendrites in the brain. Dendrites are the parts of nerve cells that are responsible for synaptic impulses and communication with other nerve cells; an increased number and greater concentration of dendrites in the brain is correlated to improved mood and better overall brain health.
KSM-66® Ashwagandha is the specific strain of the adaptogen found in the LYMA formula. It is fully patented, backed by the most extensive research studies and clinical trials, and is the most bioavailable form of ashwagandha on the market. KSM-66® Ashwagandha has been scientifically shown to improve resistance to stress and anxiety, to promote relaxation, and to improve sleep quality. Furthermore, regular intake has been shown to modulate serotonin, cortisol and melatonin levels in the body and brain, thereby regulating mood.
This surprising luxury spice.
There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that luxury spice saffron may enhance mood and be a useful addition in the treatment of seasonal depression or SAD. A study in the Journal of Behavioral and Brain Science concluded that regular supplementation with saffron extract has the ability to increase brain dopamine levels in healthy adults.
From the beginning of this month, LYMA subscribers have been benefitting from the addition of affron® into our formula. affron® is a totally unique and highly concentrated standardised saffron extract that has been shown to be effective at reducing depression in adults who suffer from either persistent or seasonal symptoms.
affron® works to boost mood by enhancing your stress response and your ability to deal with adversity and has been clinically proven to reduce symptoms of SAD, as well as depression, and to promote restorative sleep. Regular supplementation with affron® can augment antidepressant medication when taken alongside pharmaceutical antidepressants, and can actually help to mitigate against some of the side effects associated with pharmaceutical intervention.
Supplementing with affron® has been linked to a reduced concentration of cortisol in the blood, and has - in some cases - proven to be just as effective as medically-prescribed antidepressant medications at treating seasonal depression. Peer-reviewed evidence has demonstrated that affron® is most effective at alleviating low mood states and anxiety at a daily dose of 28mg, as formulated in LYMA.
SAD is a real mental health disorder and it affects so many people in the colder months. If you’re feeling low or down during winter, don’t shrug it off and wait for spring to arrive. Confide in those who care, treat yourself with kindness, and make sure you’re looking after your health by ensuring that you’re getting all the nutrients you need for a happy brain. Our guide to the best herbs and spices for mood is a great place to start.
Your health won’t get better by chance, it will only get better by change, and supplementing with LYMA could be just the change you need. When your mood needs it most, trust LYMA.
Originally published Sep 18, 2020.