The best seasonal affective disorder treatment. Learn more about natural solutions that can help treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Every winter, thousands of Americans suffer from SAD, a type of depression that is often characterized by excessive eating and/or sleeping, brain fog, reduced sex drive, social withdrawal, and/or craving sugary and starchy foods.
While it is widely accepted that the decreased exposure to the sunlight during the winter months is the main cause SAD, low levels of your brain’s neurotransmitters—namely serotonin and dopamine—have also been shown to play a role in the winter blues.
Serotonin regulates your body’s waking and sleeping cycle and helps to keep you relaxed and calm. Your brain produces serotonin from tryptophan, an amino acid found in turkey, almonds, and some seeds. Tryptophan, in turn, is created from 5-HTP.
By supplementing with 5-HTP, you can help to boost your levels of serotonin, and thereby alleviate depression. Plus, 5-HTP has also been shown to help you sleep and reduce carbohydrate cravings. Try 50–100 mg per day.
Dopamine is the yin to serotonin’s yang. It is responsible for sex drive, alertness, and an optimistic outlook. To increase your dopamine levels, take either tyrosine or phenylalanine—amino acids that give rise to dopamine. Aim for 500–1,000 mg of either L-phenylalanine or L-tyrosine twice a day. Be sure to take phenylalanine and tyrosine with 50 mg of vitamin B6 and a small amount of protein to the conversion process.