Now that our daylight hours are getting shorter and the nights are getting longer.  We are facing another harsh Minnesota winter just around the corner.  Along with long cold snowy days, it is very common for people to experience Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. Estimates are that one in ten Minnesotans are afflicted with SAD; the good news is that it can be easily managed.

Many people find that like clockwork, right around this time of year they start feeling blue. It might not be the cold weather tempting you to stay in bed. You may have seasonal depression or seasonal affective disorder.  Some studies suggest that people living in Minnesota have the highest rates of seasonal affective disorder.

A number of the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder are relatively similar to symptoms of mild or even major depression.

  • Sadness
  • Anxiety
  • irritability
  • loss of interest in usual activities
  • withdrawal from social activities
  • inability to concentrate
  • extreme fatigue and lack of energy
  • a “leaden” sensation in the limbs
  • increased need for sleep
  • Craving for carbohydrates, and accompanying weight gain.

One suspected cause of SAD is related to our internal clocks called our circadian rhythm. All humans operate on a 24-hour clock.  What resets our circadian rhythm every morning is the first exposure to sun, which for the most part we don’t receive in Minnesota during wintertime.

The reduced exposure to sunlight can throw off our rhythms and cause the onset of SAD. One of the most effective ways to treat it is bright light therapy. The light boxes can be extremely bright and somewhat noxious this light is 10,000 lux, which is equivalent to the light that you get when you’re outside and you’re receiving natural sunlight.

Our nutritional habits can also contribute to the severity of a person’s seasonal affective disorder.  Winter depression is a common slump in the mood of some inhabitants of most of the Nordic countries. It was first described by the 6th century Goth scholar Jordanes in his Getica wherein he described the inhabitants of Scandza (Scandinavia). Iceland, however, seems to be an exception. A study of more than 2000 people there found the prevalence of seasonal affective disorder and seasonal changes in anxiety and depression to be unexpectedly low in both sexes.  The study’s authors suggested that propensity for SAD may differ due to some genetic factor within the Icelandic population. A study of Canadians of wholly Icelandic descent also showed low levels of SAD. It has more recently been suggested that this may be attributed to the large amount of fish traditionally eaten by Icelandic people, in 2007 about 90 kilograms per person per year as opposed to about 24 kg in the US and Canada,[50] rather than to genetic predisposition; a similar anomaly is noted in Japan, where annual fish consumption in recent years averages about 60 kg per capita.

Supplementing with high quality fish oil could help reduce a person’s symptoms of SADs.  To increase the effectiveness of the fish oil, I suggest adding Vitamin D3 supplement along with Melatonin and 5 – HTP.  These supplements have been shown to have positive results for people with SADs.

For more information or questions please contact me at


D3 reference


Melatonin reference

Call Us
Skip to content