Seasonal affective disorder may be triggered by a disruption of the body's production of melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone that plays a role in sleep and mood. Regulating the hormone with a supplement can improve symptoms of depression and sleep patterns in some people. Check with your doctor before taking it.
You could also try fish-oil pills, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Other sources of the acids include fish, such as salmon and mackerel, or flaxseed and walnuts. The supplements have been shown to relieve depression in some studies, but even if they don't work for your mood, there's another benefit: daily fish oil can reduce the risk of heart attack in both healthy people and heart patients.
People have been using the herbal remedy St John's wort to boost mood since the time of the ancient Greeks. More recently, in 2008, a review of existing research by the Cochrane Collaboration found that St. John's wort worked better than placebo in patients with major depression. Before you start on the botanical, however, you should consult with your doctor; it can interfere with prescription medications, including antidepressants, birth control pills, heart medications, antiretrovirals for HIV, blood thinners and some anticancer drugs.
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On Sunday, Nov. 7, Americans will turn their clocks back from Daylight Saving Time, losing an hour of light in the early evening. For many, this means the start of another dull and dreary winter.
But for nearly 10% of Americans, the oncoming darkness and chill may trigger a more serious seasonal depression, a condition known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Symptoms of SAD, which can include anxiety, oversleeping, social withdrawal and weight gain, typically begin each year in late fall or early winter, lifting again in spring or summer. (In some cases, the condition comes on in spring or summer instead.) It tends to strike more often in women, people who live in northern climates and those who have a family history of depression.
Whether you suffer from mild symptoms of seasonal affective disorder or a passing case of winter blues, there are lots of home remedies that can help lift your mood. Here are a few ways to brighten the season.