How to Prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

According to, between 4-6% of people in the United States suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). The foremost treatment for SAD is light therapy, and it is often combined with psychotherapy and pharmacological therapy. However, there is an additional treatment method that will alleviate some of the symptoms from SAD. What is it? Exercise.

Common Symptoms of SAD

  • Change in appetite, especially craving sweet or starchy foods
  • Weight gain
  • Drop in energy level
  • Fatigue
  • Tendency to oversleep
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability and anxiety
  • Increased sensitivity to social rejection
  • Avoidance of social situations and a loss of interest in the activities you used to enjoy
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Physical problems, such as headaches

Benefits of Exercise

Aerobic exercise boosts your serotonin levels. Regular exercise will help you fight against weight gain, fatigue, headaches and cravings. As your serotonin levels increase, you will find your mood improving. When you combine exercise with sunlight, you receive the best of both treatments.

Consider an outdoor boot camp, such as the one New Wave Fitness offers to women in Irving. As you exercise outside, you are receiving much needed light therapy, and a strong serotonin boost. Ask your in-home personal trainer if you can hold some of your workouts outdoors, weather permitting.

There are several reasons why this therapy is ideal: Exercise not only makes you feel good, it has numerous health benefits. It will assist in lowering your blood pressure, reducing your risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes, and helps you build a strong core in order to aid healthy posture.

The more you exercise, the more fat you lose. Fat loss is one of the single best things in order to prevent heart attack and stroke. The more you exercise, the more muscle you build. While muscle weighs more than fat, increased muscle mass will make you leaner, stronger, and fit.

Reduced stress and anxiety will occur with regular exercise. As you decrease your stress and anxiety, you will find you are better able to cope with SAD symptoms as you will not feel as overwhelmed by those symptoms.

Benefits of Light Therapy

Light therapy is the single best treatment for SAD according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). Individuals with SAD, successfully treated with bright light therapy, relapse when serotonin and catecholamine levels are depleted. What does that mean for you?

Simply put, if you are using light therapy to treat your SAD then it is in your best interest to keep to a regular schedule of light therapy. You can increase your light therapy effectiveness by exercising out of doors whenever possible. Even if the sun is not out directly, you will still receive benefits from being outdoors during the day.