Natural Treatments for Depression: Seasonal Affective disorder (SAD)

Natural Treatments for Depression

Depression seems to be a naturally occurring human problem that is very common yet deeply troubling. We have come to expect that modern medicine is able to treat and often cure the common medical problems we experience in life but where psychological problems are concerned this is not necessarily the case. So, why not try natural treatments for depression instead of or alongside a medical intervention?

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Taking an active role in treating depression

You may think that a natural approach may not always be the best or most effective. However, when you delve into the research evidence for natural treatments for depression the results may surprise you. If the depression isn’t severe and you don’t feel suicidal then why not take an active part in treating your depression.

Take more control over low mood

To start with let’s take a moment and contrast a medical treatment for depression with a natural treatment or self help for clinical depression. All medical treatments for depression that are on the market today require you to simply take the medication or in extreme instances, such as depression ECT treatment, subject yourself to the procedure. This seems to me to be a very passive state. The evidence actually suggests that the more active role you take in your own treatment the better the outcome will be.

Natural Treatments for Depression: Light therapy for treating SAD

The status of bright light or phototherapy for winter depression commonly called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is now well established. The therapeutic use of light first started from research showing that exposure to bright light could alter circadian rhythms and could suppress melatonin secretion in humans. It was further hypothesised that because melatonin was implicated in the regulation of many seasonal rhythms manipulating melatonin by expose to bright light may make clinical sense.  Hence, the modern bright light therapy seemed a logical intervention strategy for seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Natural Treatments for Depression: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

It is a condition that consists of recurrent episodes of major depression occurring along a seasonal pattern, most often with depression during the autumn and winter with full or near full remission during spring and summer. The fortunate discovery of the relationship between light and seasonal mood, for some people, has spurred research attempting to more completely understand the relationship between melatonin in the physiology of SAD. It turns out that the role of melatonin is smaller than previously believed. Nevertheless many therapeutic trials have demonstrated the efficacy of bright light therapy as a first-response treatment in SAD.

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Will bright light work as a treatment for non-seasonal depression?

While the efficacy of bright light therapy has been much more studied in seasonal than in regular major depression a considerable amount of research effort has been devoted to this question. As is usually the case with research literature, studies use different parameters and techniques making strong recommendations problematic. However, the analysis of randomised, controlled trials (RCTs) of this research suggests that bright light therapy and dawn simulation for seasonal affective disorder and bright light for non-seasonal depression are effective. Furthermore some research studies show more or less equal effects when compared to most antidepressant meds.

It seems to work so try it!

In summary, light therapy is thought to be a good natural treatment with few adverse side effects. Furthermore I consider it to be an active natural treatment for depression because it is something controlled entirely by the user both in terms of dose of light and time or day it is used. Why not give it a try?

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