7 Natural Treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD)

From sunshine to rain, Mother Nature can influence our mood. She sets the tone for the entire day – whether or not you realize it!

For some, an entire season can shake things up. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a form of depression that’s linked to specific seasons. Symptoms develop when the season starts, but go away when it ends.


Unsurprisingly, SAD is most common in the late fall and winter, but it’s possible to have it in the summer. Winter SAD symptoms include low energy, social withdrawal, drowsiness, craving for carbohydrates, overeating, and weight gain.

Vitamin D is thought to play a big part in SAD. When your skin is exposed to the sun, it makes vitamin D, a nutrient that affects the activity of serotonin. This brain chemical is in charge of mood and behavior.


You can treat SAD with prescription drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs),1 but there are more natural options. Check out these seven home remedies for beating the winter blues.

1. Vitamin D Supplements

 Vitamin D supplements to treat seasonal affective disorder


Vitamin D supplements will boost your intake and get your levels back to normal. It’s an easy and convenient option.

Supplements are also useful if you live in a part of the world that doesn’t get enough sun. If you’re between the ages of 19 and 70 years, you should get 600 IU a day. The requirement stays the same if you’re pregnant or lactating. If you’re over 70, you need 800 IU daily.2


2. Foods With Vitamin D


There aren’t many foods that naturally contain vitamin D. Most sources include seafood, such as swordfish and salmon. In a 3-ounce serving, these fish have 566 and 447 IU, respectively. Canned tuna fish has 154 IU in a 3-ounce serving.


You can also get 1,360 IU in a tablespoon of cod liver oil – if you can stomach it, that is! Small amounts are available in eggs, canned sardines, and beef liver.

Some foods, like orange juice and milk, can be fortified with vitamin D. Additional fortified foods include yogurt, margarine, and cereal. The label on each product will state whether or not it has been fortified with vitamin D.3


3. Stress Management

Stress management to treat seasonal affective disorder

Stress management is important all-year round. Yet, if you have SAD, it’s even more crucial. Keeping your stress levels in check is one of the best natural remedies for SAD.4


Make time for regular exercise despite the weather. Remember, it’s always possible to work out inside. A simple round of jumping jacks and squats will do wonders. You can also use exercise DVDs that feature aerobics, dance, and yoga routines. For free home workouts, turn to YouTube.

If all else fails, run in place. Any type of exercise that increases your oxygen uptake will relieve SAD symptoms.5

Focus on activities that you love. Pick up a new hobby, or work on expanding skills you already have. Consider meditation and breathing exercises. And, as always, make time for friends and family. Social health is essential for emotional and mental health.6

Don’t wait until the symptoms kick in. Making stress management a part of your daily life will stop crummy feelings before they even start.

4. Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy helps to treat seasonal affective disorder

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a safe, natural treatment for SAD. Sessions are typically 90-minutes long, twice a week for six weeks. Therapy is usually done in groups, which helps counteract the antisocial tendencies of people with SAD.

Activities are also a big part of this kind of cognitive-behavioral therapy. Again, this is meant to keep the mind engaged and encourage some fun.7

5. Herbs

treat seasonal affective disorder with herbs

Seasonal Affective Disorder is linked to nature, so why not combat it with natural cures? In particular, herbs are a great way to skip the chemicals in SSRIs. You can take them as a tablet or tea.

Saffron is a well-respected antidepressant herb. It’s been proven to work just as well as antidepressant drugs like fluoxetine and imipramine. Rhodalia, St. John’s Wort, and Gingko biloba can also improve your mood.8 9

If you’re already taking SSRIs, these herbal remedies might cause harmful interactions. Check with your doctor first.10

6. Light Therapy

Light therapy to treat seasonal affective disorder

To mimic the sunlight, use a fluorescent light box. Granted, it’s made with technology and not found in nature, but it’s less invasive than taking prescription drugs.

Light therapy requires you to sit in front of a light box for at least 30 minutes daily. Results are just as good as antidepressant drugs, without the side effects of palpitations and agitation. However, like all remedies, light therapy must be used correctly. Keeping a healthy distance and position is a must.

Another option is to use LED lights and lamps at home.11

7. Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy to treat seasonal affective disorder

For another holistic SAD treatment, try aromatherapy. Essential oils will lift your spirits and make your home smell amazing.

Lavender, eucalyptus, rosemary and bitter orange essential oils reduce depression and anxiety. Rose water has similar effects.12 13 14 15

To practice aromatherapy, use an essential oil diffuser or oil burner. You can also just take a whiff from the bottle.

Five drops of essential oil can also be diluted in one tablespoon of a carrier oil, like grapeseed or coconut oil. This mixture can be applied to the skin as an antidepressive massage oil.

Try to take advantage of rare, sunny winter days. When the sun does peak through, head outside and soak up what you can. Sitting by the window might also help.