Skip to Main

How to Ease the Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

The Doppler 9&10 Weather Team says we’ve only had six days of some sunshine over the last 30 days.

These gloomy winter days can lead to what’s known as seasonal affective disorder.

SAD is a mood disorder characterized by depression.

A lack of sunshine causes it, so the farther you live from the equator, the more common it is.

“SAD does affect chemicals in the brain,” said Diana Volant, Owner & Psychologist at Mindful Performance Therapy. “We usually find about 4 to 6% of the population in our area has SAD, and about 10 to 20% have more mild symptoms.”

People with seasonal affective disorder usually experience symptoms around the same time each year.

“Fatigue is one, needing extra nap time, lying in bed for a longer period, depressive symptoms rise. Anxiety rises, as well as a need for carbohydrates as a big symptom and difficulty focusing,” explained Volant.

However, there are things you can do to help ease the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder.

“We want to get those feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin by getting up and moving. It is so important, even if you’re just taking steps around your office or home standing up and stretching,” said Volant. “Going to talk to your therapist if you haven’t already gone through those negative thought patterns associated with SAD is also important.”

Creating your own sunshine can also help. You can sit in front of a light box for 20 minutes or an hour or in a salt room, like the one at Urban Oasis Salt Spa in Traverse City.

“Just by being in this environment with all the salt is very, very relaxing also with all the different lights behind all our salt panels,” said Carol Saxton, Owner of Urban Oasis Salt Spa.

“Any time that you can incorporate light, whether it’s artificial or natural, is going to help increase your overall mood, energy levels, and again, your overall spirit so much,” explained Volant.

No matter what, if you’re feeling down, know you aren’t alone.

“Our world is starting to recognize that mental health is a true, valid need in everyone’s world. Everyone suffers in some sort of way. Everyone has their strengths, and everyone has their weaknesses,” said Volant.

If you have depression, or bipolar one or two, you have an increased chance of having seasonal affective disorder.

If you want to contact Diana Volant of Mindful Performance Therapy, you can email her at or call 989-402-2760.