Serotonin Alleviates Depression ~ SAD

sun set - sun increases serotonin

This week the prompt for Sex Bloggers for Mental Health is Seasonal Affective Disorder – SAD.

SAD in the past

I have written about this topic before. In fact it was the first ever post I wrote on Sex Matters that had a Mental Health theme.

It was mainly a personal post relating to members of my family and how we suffer from SAD each winter. This bit from the article was a little more informative.

Symptoms of SAD can include:

  • a persistent low mood or feeling anxious
  • a loss of interest in everyday activities that you normally find pleasurable
  • irritability or moodiness
  • feeling lethargic
  • sleeping problems

It is thought that SAD occurs because of reduced exposure to sunlight during the shorter autumn and winter days. Lack of sunlight interrupts the part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which can affect the production of certain chemicals such as melatonin (regulates sleep patterns), and serotonin (balances mood). Both of these are involved in your body’s internal clock. When disrupted it can make you feel out of kilter, just not quite yourself. How strongly and in what way these symptoms manifest is down to the individual, but it’s also possible that some people are more vulnerable to SAD as a result of their genes; it appears to run in families. 

I thought it was time to return to SAD but looking at it from a different angle. That of Serotonin and how it is known to aid winter induced depression – for some people.

There are ways to increase your serotonin levels…

Winter blues – The joy of serotonin

I don’t know many people who sail through the winter months without feeling down. Fighting off winter bugs and coping with not enough day light is tough for the best of us. However, there are a few things we can do to help ourselves.

Its not rocket science to know that getting out for a brisk walk in the fresh air, or exercising at the gym release the endorphins which give us a feeling of well-being.

But what about help when you are simply too busy to exercise? Well there are supplements we can take to improve our frame of mind so that we don’t need to resort to a G&T every night 😉

Vitamin D3

One of the only ways we can get vitamin D is from the sun. Obviously there is less sun available to us in the UK during winter time. Supplementing with liquid vitamin D, daily during winter could certainly help. The liquid is preferable as it is easily absorbed by the body. You can also get vitamin D from some fish. Taking cod liver oil is also another way to get your vitamin D, and its a an omega oil. I am crazy about omega oils as they greatly improve skin conditions such as eczema, which I suffer from.

What this can do for you? Well Vitamin D increases serotonin, the mood neurotransmitter. It is widely believed that a serotonin deficiency plays a role in depression. Vitamin D also helps to regulate calcium and phosphorous which benefits your bones but that’s a story for another day.

The dose? Anything from 5ug to 25ug.

5-HTP

This supplement converts directly into serotonin in the brain. I’ve already mentioned it is thought we need this chemical to stay happy.

One thing I would mention is  how much 5-HTP of you take a day is very subjective. We are all so different that it may work to have one every other day or you may need the max dose recommended on the pot. I suspect it all depends on how low your serotonin level is. It decreases with age.

St Johns Wort

This herbal supplement has been proven to be a good substitute for anti depressants. How it works? This also helps with the winter blues by increasing serotonin levels. Like 5-HTP the dose is very individual and St Johns Wort does not suit everyone.

Give Serotonin a Whirl

Perhaps explore some of these supplements in the winter time when SAD begins to take a grip. It’s not necessary to take all these together, instead find the solution which suits you and your life style. High street retailers such as Holland and Barrett can offer advice as you buy. For online sales check out Higher Nature.

Other supplements that may help with SAD are Lavender, Melatonin plus more. Read my older post for details…

sb4mh Serotonin
#33 Serotonin Aids Depression SAD
serotonin
30th August SAD

13 thoughts on “Serotonin Alleviates Depression ~ SAD

  1. You made me laugh with your comment about supplements being useful if one doesn’t have time for a walk … and that they are healthier than a nightly G&T.

    Seriously though this is a good post … I like your educational ones they are always so full of solid information. Really interesting comments on this one too!

  2. I’ve been curious about 5HTP for a while as I can’t tolerate SSRIs, thanks for the info here May. I think I’ll need to try something.

  3. I don’t normally give advice, but in this case one might be in order. And it goes like this: HAVE YOU TRIED MORE LIGHT? Like, not a little bit more, but the amount of light you’d get in the summer. Here is a story of someone who built his own custom super-powerful light source for his then-wife, and how it cured her SAD: http://agentyduck.blogspot.com/2014/09/my-experiences-with-sad-interventions.html
    the gory details: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/hC2NFsuf5anuGadFm/how-to-build-a-lumenator

    Basically, it has to be powerful enough for you to want to wear sunglasses when it’s on, and it has to be on long enough to simulate summer days. It’s not a cheap undertaking, but with the new power-efficient and long-lasting LED lights, the ongoing expense should be bearable.

  4. There is a related condition in the elderly seen in aged care homes, more common with dementia patients, and that is “sundown syndrome”. Their dementia symptoms, memory, confusion gets worse around sundown.

  5. An interesting post with great information…. however…. I must confess to being sat with a large Sipsmiths sloe gin and pink lucozade zero…. it’s been a hell of a week!

  6. SAD is something my father suffers from but not me, though I’m wondering as I get older.

    What I did read with interest was your section on D3 and that you find cod liver oil helps with eczema. A related question: Do you know if there’s any data about cod liver oil and psoriasis ? Any cures for psoriasis are personal and anecdotal that rarely translate to another person. Most things I have tried have just make it worse.

    1. no – u are right what u say and it is really flax seed oil or hemp oil – other omega oils – that helps with my eczema – u could try one of those but psoriasis is a difficult thing. The sun would help so maybe vit d3 would x

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