SAD affects 6 percent of the U.S. population, and anywhere from 10 to 20 percent have recurring seasonal depression called "winter blues." In Canada, 15 percent have the blues, and 2 to 6 percent experience SAD, while in England, 20 percent experience the winter blues, and 2 percent experience SAD. The common denominator is that prevalence tends to be higher in regions that are farther from the equator and in northern latitudes.
There are different theories for why SAD may occur, including genetic factors, poor regulation of serotonin—a neurotransmitter that has been found to be lower in the winter in individuals with SAD—and higher melatonin levels, which in combination with low serotonin, wreaks havoc on the natural circadian rhythm and the sleep-wake cycle.
Having SAD or the winter blues is likely more common than reported, especially with the advent of computers and smartphones that have negative effects on melatonin—a hormone that regulates sleep—and serotonin levels. Screen time in general has also been found to increase fatigue, stress, and depression.
If you're feeling more blue than usual this winter, here are a few natural and holistic ways you can help uplift your spirits. And of course, should symptoms persist, we encourage you to see your doctor, naturopath, or therapist who can help with more individualistic treatment.