December 7, 2016
4 Simple Steps to Soften SAD Symptoms

If you or your patients are among the millions of Americans affected by seasonal affective disorder, SAD, you may be dreading this time of year. While the exact mechanism of this disorder is unknown, research has shown promise in revealing the cause and providing effective treatments. One proposed etiology, as seen in other forms of depression, is the idea of neurotransmitter imbalance. In general, serotonin turnover in the brain is lowest in the winter which may be able to explain the increase in depression seen in the darker months. Additionally, individuals with SAD have been shown to have greater difficulty regulating serotonin, with studies showing seasonal variations in serotonin transporter binding. In conjunction with a decrease in serotonin during the winter months, it also appears that individuals with SAD may also exhibit alterations in melatonin production, producing more of this sleep-inducing hormone which could explain the excessive tiredness and lethargy associated with SAD. Furthermore, low vitamin D levels may also play a role in SAD as the correlation between low vitamin D and depression is well documented. Due to the multifactorial nature of this disorder, a varied treatment approach including natural therapies is key in helping those affect by SAD live up to their full potential.

How can we fight the winter blues?

  1. Turn on the lights: Studies have shown that light exposure from full spectrum light, similar in composition to sunlight, for 20-60 minutes can help regulate melatonin production and improve mood.

  2. Get moving: One study compared aerobic exercise with and without light therapy to a control group of relaxation training in ordinary lighting in SAD population. Both treatments were administered for 1 week. The exercise group participated in two daily sessions on a stationary bike for 25 minutes working up to 75% of their max heart rate. The exercise was conducted in bright light (2500-4000lx) or ordinary light (400-600lx). Aerobic exercise training in bright light resulted in greater relief from atypical depressive symptoms.

  3. Vitamin D: A randomized, double -blind, placebo controlled clinical trial was performed on 40 patients between 18 and 65 years old with a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder. The two groups were randomly assigned with one group receiving 50,000 IU a week of vitamin D and the other placebo for 8 weeks. At the end of the eight weeks, a greater decrease in the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) was observed in the treatment group when compared to the control group.

  4. Test melatonin and neurotransmitter levels and treat the identified imbalances.

Obtain treatment strategies at Labrix Advanced Workshop in Las Vegas, February 10-12, 2017. Sign up before December 31, and you'll receive a $50 testing credit after completion of the workshop. Don't wait, space is limited. Register today!

References:
  • Melrose, Sherri. "Seasonal Affective Disorder: An Overview of Assessment and Treatment Approaches." Depression Research and Treatment 2015 (2015): 1-6. Accessed December 6, 2016. doi:10.1155/2015/178564.
  • Lambert G, Reid C, Kaye D, et al. “Effect of sunlight and season on serotonin turnover in the brain.” Lancet. 2002;360:1840–2.
  • Lewy, A. J., B. J. Lefler, J. S. Emens, and V. K. Bauer. "The Circadian Basis of Winter Depression." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 103, no. 19 (2006): 7414-419. Accessed December 6, 2016. doi:10.1073/pnas.0602425103.
  • Mcmahon, B., S.b. Andersen, M.k. Madsen, L.v. Hjordt, I. Hageman, H. Dam, C. Svarer, S. Da Cunha-Bang, W. Barré, J. Madsen, L. Hasholt, V. Frokjaer, and G.m. Knudsen. "P.1.i.037 Patients with Seasonal Affective Disorder Show Seasonal Fluctuations in Their Cerebral Serotonin Transporter Binding." European Neuropsychopharmacology 24 (2014). Accessed December 6, 2016. doi:10.1016/s0924-977x(14)70506-1.
  • Sepehrmanesh, Z., F. Kolahdooz, F. Abedi, N. Mazroii, A. Assarian, Z. Asemi, and A. Esmaillzadeh. "Vitamin D Supplementation Affects the Beck Depression Inventory, Insulin Resistance, and Biomarkers of Oxidative Stress in Patients with Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized, Controlled Clinical Trial." Journal of Nutrition 146, no. 2 (2015): 243-48. Accessed December 6, 2016. doi:10.3945/jn.115.218883.
  • Tyrer, Andrea E., Robert D. Levitan, Sylvain Houle, Alan A. Wilson, José N. Nobrega, and Jeffrey H. Meyer. "Increased Seasonal Variation in Serotonin Transporter Binding in Seasonal Affective Disorder." Neuropsychopharmacology 41, no. 10 (2016): 2447-454. Accessed December 6, 2016. doi:10.1038/npp.2016.54.


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Labrix Advanced
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Las Vegas, NV
February 10-12, 2017

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A4M
Las Vegas, NV
December 9-11, 2016

Stop by the Labrix booth and meet Labrix co-founders Dr. Erin Lommen and Dr. Jay Mead at the A4M Conference in Las Vegas this December.