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Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) - Home Treatment

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It's fine to be active in blocks of 10 minutes or more throughout your day and week. You can choose to do one or both types of activity.

Moderate activity is safe for most people, but it's always a good idea to talk to your doctor before you start an exercise program.

Also try to do exercises to strengthen muscles at least two times each week. Examples include weight training or stair climbing on two or more days that are not in a row. For best results, use a resistance (weight) that gives you muscle fatigue after 8 to 12 repetitions of each exercise.

Healthy diet

Eating a healthy, balanced diet is helpful for any type of depression and may help relieve some of the symptoms of SAD.

Complementary treatment

The following complementary treatments may be helpful in treating symptoms of SAD, although there currently is not enough scientific evidence to prove their usefulness.

  • An herb called St. John's wort may help ease depression symptoms.
  • Melatonin is a hormone that may help regulate your biological clock (circadian rhythms). But you need to take a very low dose at a specific time of the day.

Be sure to check with your doctor before you try these complementary therapies, because they may interact with other medicines you are taking.

You should not take St. John's wort if you are taking other antidepressants. Also, St. John's wort may cause light sensitivity. If you are using light therapy, you may want to discuss with your doctor whether St. John's wort is right for you in the treatment of SAD.

Research on the effectiveness of other SAD treatments is ongoing.

Advice for caregivers

Sometimes family members and friends are not sure how to help someone who has seasonal affective disorder. It may help to:

  • Spend time with your loved one even though he or she may be withdrawn or quiet.
  • Offer to help with daily tasks that temporarily may be too difficult to do alone. But it is important that you do not enable the person to remain depressed by taking over all of his or her daily responsibilities.
  • Take a walk or do some other type of exercise activity together. Getting out first thing in the morning for a walk may be helpful.
  • Help the person to stay with the prescribed treatment plan.

For more information on helping someone with SAD or depression, see:

Depression: Helping Someone Get Treatment.
Depression: Supporting Someone Who Is Depressed.

Unfortunately, many people don't seek treatment for mental health problems. You may not seek treatment because you think the symptoms are not bad enough or that you can work things out on your own. But getting treatment is important.

If you need help deciding whether to see your doctor, see some reasons why people don't get help and how to overcome them.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 07, 2010
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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