“Oh, Am I SAD!”

Next to fibromyalgia, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is probably the most misunderstood. Personally, I know it’s real. I knew moving from sunny Arizona (98% sunshiny days) to Ohio (40%) would be a challenge. I need sunshine!!! In the past 10 days, I’ve seen my beloved sunshine only 4 days.

Since moving to Savannah isn’t an option, how can I combat this? As a Christian, my first thought is faith. God wouldn’t call us here without a plan to overcome this medical challenge of mine. My God supplies all my needs.

Being a nutritionist, my primary defense is a nutritional one. If you suffer from SAD as I do, I’d recommend these tips:

  1. Poor diet affects SAD. It’s a downward cycle. The brain and body feel lethargic – on these days I have no energy and would prefer to vegetate in front of the TV or read a good book. Therefore to create energy, my hypothalamus, (the little traffic cop in our brain) will crave simple, sugary carbohydrates which after an insulin crash a few hours later, is its worse choice!What the body needs is good, fibrous, complex carbohydrates such as beans, legumes, whole grains (not wheat) walnuts, fruits and vegetables with its B complex vitamins. Along with these, choose high protein foods, such as pork, turkey, peanuts, fish and chicken
  2. Consume a daily Vitamin D tablet with food. Remember Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin so it only works with other foods. One can’t simply pop a pill and expect it to work. This is also a case of “if some is good, more is NOT better.” Vitamin D can build up to dangerous levels in your system if taken to extreme.There are three ways to get your vitamin D, through sunshine and foods such as egg yolks, milk, salmon, sweet potatoes, tuna, vegetable oils, butter and supplements.
  3. I’d recommend adding hot, spicy selections to your weekly menu: horseradish, hot sauce, tabasco, wasabi, chili peppers, red pepper flakes and anything which stimulates brain circulation, produces a happier you.
  4. Garlic, leeks, onions increase serotonin in the brain, which is the “feel good” neurotransmitter which plays a huge role in your mood, appetite and sleep patterns.
  5. Increase omega 3 fatty acid intake through fish oils, milled flaxseed or primrose oils. By increasing the right type of fat, it keeps our moods and behaviors positive and reinforces our brain’s memory which is less frustrating for everyone.
  6. Tyrosine found in spinach, beans, legumes, bananas, pumpkin seeds, avocados is a great good mood stimulator.

The next defenses are social situations:

  1. Don’t hibernate! Get out of the house, call, Facebook or email friends to stay in touch. Laughter really is the best medicine.
  2. Apply music therapy. Happy music creates a happier, positive mood.
  3. Exercise improves mood! Dance to that music or get out and walk, weather permitting. Fresh air improves the mood as well.
  4. Consider light therapy. Natural sunlight is balanced light and allows us to maintain optimum health. Consult with your doctor to see if light therapy would be covered under your health insurance.

Some struggle in a world of darkness today. But someday, the Son will be our Ultimate Light Therapy. He contains all the therapy we need for abundant life and health! Let your personal life shine!

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord shines over you. For look, darkness covers the earth and total darkness the people. But the Lord will shine over you, and his glory will appear over you.” (Isaiah 60:1-2)

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33 thoughts on ““Oh, Am I SAD!”

  1. My mother deeply enjoyed reading this important and informative presentation, This is important message to learn and explore.

    Reverse seasonal affective disorder, also known as summer SAD, is a rare condition that affects people when the weather is warm.

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  2. Thank you for posting this. I know many who suffer from S.A.D. So hard it is for them! November seems to be the month it begins around the Midwest so I’m already reminding my friends to “let the light in!”

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  3. Very informative post. I notice a change in me too when there’s insufficient sun and blue skies. In England sufficient sunny days are a challenge and in October the clocks go back an hour so evenings get darker earlier. SAD is the word:-)

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  4. It was great to read your tips for S.A.D. I live in Northern Alberta (Canada) and it is dark when you leave for work, dark when you leave for home at 4:30p.m. I don’t have S.A.D. but the dark Fall & Winter days are difficult to deal with. Many others I know have this same struggle with the dark and cold weather.
    Going to try some of your recommendations.

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  5. Well said, good advice. I grew up in Ohio and know the winters can be long. Get outside whenever you can, even if the sun isn’t shining. Enjoy the snowy beauty and try winter sports. Hoar frost on a sunny morning will take your breath away.

    Go to a good outfitter, like Columbia, and get clothes appropriate for below zero temps and water resistant. Coming from AZ you’ll probably want long johns, tops and bottoms. Good gloves and boots with grippers are a MUST! Your feet and hands will freeze first. sd

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  6. Thanks for the great tips, Ellie. I am sure I have this also. We bought a hot tub last spring. I just told my husband last night it might help me get through the winter because I can still go outside and be warm. LOL

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    • Really, you too? We can commiserate together. The worse thing is, I’m not a phony and when I get SAD and am quiet, some want to know why and I feel I must still be happy to please them. If I explain, either they think, “Well, that’s nothing, you don’t have cancer, etc.” or want me to “just get over it, it’s all in your head!” It’s a frustrating disease because so few understand it unless you go through it. I choose to be happy and quote 1 John 4:4 a lot!

      Nothing can still our JOY, because that comes from the LORD, but happiness is fleeting and I now can appreciate the sunny days when in Arizona, I just took them for granted. Thanks for your kjind comment and blessings to you and yours,

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  7. Hi Ellie. You are so blessed to be doing such great work for our LORD. He will take care of you and will look after you. There is a purpose behind everything that happens in our lives and you are a firm believer of good, so good will help you in every way. I appreciate the lovely, valuable tips on health in the post. My prayers and best wishes for your new mission in Ohio. I know in no time you will get busy and will get used to the new environment and the weather. These are small challenges for an enormous person like you. Take care and God bless my friend. ❤️😊

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  8. I love all of your advice as a nutritionist. I always struggle with this (luckily, the winter season is not quite as winter-y here in SF Bay Area than the East Coast), and I definitely feel like getting up and doing something/being active helps a lot 🙂

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    • You too??? Wow, it’s so common isn’t it? And you are so active – I haven’t walked since we’ve moved here two weeks ago and cabin fever will set in soon. It’s beautiful today so we’re working on our lawn, gathering leaves (and it’s a huge lawn!) We only raked gravel previously, ha!

      Thank you for your kind comment, my dear running friend, it helps, blessings,

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  9. Sorry to hear Ellie your reservations about your new home but good that your keeping your focus on The Lord.

    Thanks Ellie for some great advice and very True we need balance in all things even sugar and honey, they need to be in balance too and so does Chocolate.

    Interesting that when I was sharing a joke this week with a Nurse about Chocolate Easter eggs, she advised me that the latest research shows it helps Dementia, yes everything God created is good and nothing is to be rejected, except when for Medical reasons it is dangerous to have, although excess fat can cause problems for Diabetics too not just suger.

    Thankfully eggs are good cholesterol but something I was warned about years ago, artificial sugar substitutes increases cravings for the sugar it replaces and excess substitutes can make you sick, it is better to have sugar or honey in moderation and enjoy it and yes give thanks to God for all our food.

    My problem is not food though, it’s exercise, something that is very limited for me with my feet, many who are disabled or the aged have the same limitations, do you have any advice Ellie, do we have to starve to keep our weight under control, so we can make up for no exercise?

    Christian Love in Unity with Christ Jesus – Anne.

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    • Oh please, I hope you don’t think I was feeling sorry for myself, no pity party here!!! There is always something good about where we’ve lived and Ohio has so many more good characteristics than bad any day! We are very blessed to be here. SAD is something that can be controlled and could happen anywhere, even in Arizona, (and has). I am also blessed to be a nutritionist and in that way I can advise others great ways to combat this misunderstood illness. It’s not “all in our head.” as some doctors once told me.

      You are so right about eggs and balance. I advise others to eat real food, just eat less of it. God wouldn’t create something and then exclaim, “Oh my gosh, I made a mistake – don’t eat that!!!” My God doesn’t make mistakes and I’m sure yours is mine as well!

      It’s always great to hear from you my dear friend and thank you for your caring attitude. Do you attempt chair exercise or use stretch bands at all? Anything that makes your heart pump helps your metabolism and if you can extend your arms over your head will assist in weight loss also, blessings,

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      • Well I’m pleased Ellie that your not really sad and thank you for your exercise advice I will sing and raise my arms to The Lord, a great exercise.

        I need some more advise Ellie, I’m helping a pregnant woman who has very low blood pressure, the Doctor told her to eat a lot of sugary foods but she sleeps most of the day and night too, is there other foods that will help her be more active.

        Thank you – Blessings Anne.

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  10. Well Anne, that could be a series of blogs but in a nutshell, your pregnant friend needs a combination of quick but SUSTAINING energy such as an apple with peanut butter or strawberries in low fat yogurt. A combination of complex carbs and lean protein.

    Calories simply mean energy. How in the world a doctor could tell a pregnant woman to consume LOTS of sugary foods is beyond me!!! When to many sugary foods are consumed, it releases too much insulin to counterbalance the sugar. The body’s natural physiology begins to rebel – an overabundance of glucose makes insulin go crazy causing an imbalance. She needs fruits, vegetables and lots of fiber and water, not sugary foods like donuts and candy.

    Please advise her to research on her own or better yet, purchase my book if she can afford it which provides a great deal of physiological common sense based on Godly principles and HIs design. Please tell your friend to write me and I will be happy to help her (free) have a healthy life and baby. This doctor’s dangerous advice really concerns and baffles me.

    Thank you ever so much for asking me Anne.

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    • Thanks Ellie, and yes I felt the same as you, I do believe everything in moderation is OK including sugar and fats, we need them too as I discovered when I eliminated them completely for a few years but I thought it strange when Georgina said she was told to have heaps of sugar but perhaps she misunderstood the Doctor or he may have meant fruit etc anyway she couldn’t stay awake which worried me, she has no energy at all.

      I have been looking after this family for a few weeks, they have been staying with me but they are now renting a home in another area. I did see Georgina for a short time this morning and passed on some of what you shared with me but she was in a hurry and said she would be in touch.

      Thank you for your very kind offer Ellie to help Georgina and I very much appreciate your advice to me too. It has been a long time since I studied Diet and Nutrition and Norma Dybesky the Dietitian for the Health Department who trained me in Sydney is now deceased, I use to phone her if I needed help or advice, she was also a wonderful support when I was running my Christian weight control Groups.

      Blessings – Anne.

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  11. Ellie, thank you for posting this. SAD is the one thing I was diagnosed with years ago, as well as FMS. The FMS for me isn’t much of an issue tough, because the muscle myopathy and nerve disease I have overpowers everything else. In regards to having SAD though, one of my greatest defenses has been light bulbs! 🙂 I use the brightest fluorescent natural sunlight bulbs in every socket of the house and have them on constantly until bedtime. This does wonders to combat the lack of sunshine!

    The struggle you are experiencing with your move is the exact same one I’m going through now as well. We were living in CA, FL, and Hawaii, so I haven’t had to see snow, feel the cold, or do without sunshine for the last 4 years and it was the best time of my life (health wise.) We decided to come back to CO only for my girls college, because this is where she wanted to start her life and where she has the most friends. I, however, am not doing well with it already and it’s only been 3 months (she’ll transfer in another 1 1/2 years to live on campus.) Plus, I also have an auto immune disorder, which means I can’t go outside like everyone else in the winter and spend much of it being ill.

    So… I understand what you’re going through and will keep you in prayers my friend. My saving grace thus far, has been to accept as many traveling opportunities as I can during these months 🙂 Blessings and hugs to you dear! ❤

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    • One of the reasons I admire you so much is that you are never a “victim” but a strong, competent survivor.

      I have nothing to complain about and even my horrendous childhood has been a blessing for, as you also exemplify, made us compassionate for a cause. God has been our rescuer and so if it in His plan, who am I to shake my fist at God and ask, “Why me?” Christ went through infinitely more for me.

      How I love you already for your caring heart – and if you are ever through Ohio, I do hope you will get in touch! 🙂 Blessings back,

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  12. Your opening sentence just made me cry, Ellie… They are very good tears though, so thank you! Those are words I really needed to hear right now, and seem like more confirmation for things I’ve been working on and the direction God seems to be taking me. Thank you for being so open and speaking what’s on your heart! And I would absolutely love to be in touch the next time I come through your area 🙂

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