Don't be Sad, Be Glad with these Herbs

Treat seasonal depression holistically with light therapy, St.John's wort, and nutrients

| November/December 1999

SAD is especially prevalent in countries at the extreme northern and southern ­latitudes, where there may be only an hour or two of sunlight each day during the winter. 

Every fall, like clockwork, Maureen went into an emotional slump. As she sat in my office one December morning, the thirty-eight-year-old bookkeeper and mother of two teenagers said that her body felt heavy and her brain in low gear. Her usually manageable life seemed like too much to handle.

“I can’t get up for work in the morning,” she said. “I jump at the kids, seem to have no patience at all, and my mood is in the dumps.”

Maureen (not her real name) further described feeling sluggish and ­withdrawn, craving sweet and starchy foods, gaining weight, and sleeping whenever and for as long as she could. These are all symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression that occurs with the decreasing amount of sunlight during the fall and winter. Maureen’s mother and one sister had the same problem, and her recollection of the winters in her childhood home were particularly gloomy, indeed.

Sound familiar? If so, you may also be one of the 10 million Americans with full-blown SAD. More than twice that many people experience less serious versions of the disorder.

What causes SAD?

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