Dr. Ashley Margeson on Seasonal Affective Disorder

Dr. Ashley Margeson on Seasonal Affective Disorder

With the fall leaves turning and the mornings cooling down, my brain shifts towards how much I don’t want to get out of bed. I just want to cozy up, not move, and hibernate until winter passes. Not being a hibernating bear, with the requirement to take care of a few little people and a husband (as well as a job), I guess I have to actually get up and go about my day.

See, the reason we don’t want to get out of bed in the winter, and the reason depression can rear its ugly head, is the change in light throughout the day. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real phenomenon, and there is a relatively easy way to combat it.

Much of the research on Seasonal Affective Disorder over the last number of years has centred around the affect of both Vitamin D and Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Although we see a clear link between low blood levels of Vitamin D and an increased risk of experiencing SAD we do not yet know if supplementing with Vitamin D actually helps to decrease the symptoms of SAD.

What we do know is that there is an area of your brain (your hypothalamus) that controls something known as your Cortisol Awakening Response (CAR). This response is associated with an increase in energy levels and motivation and it relates to only one thing. That thing? Light.

This now what the research on Seasonal Affective Disorder focuses on… the effect of light on your mood.

My recommendations?

  • Start by opening up your blinds and wake up to the natural light.
  • Use a “wake up” alarm clock to mimic sunrise.
  • Make a coffee, or a cup of warm tea, and put your snow boots and jacket on over your pjs and stand on your back deck for a couple minutes.
  • Get outside in the middle of the day and get that light to your hypothalamus to stimulate your CAR.

On top of that, focus on making sure you’ve got nutrients supporting your brain. Concentrate on adding a fat to every meal, and don’t toss that fish away! Support your brain with warm water, and focus on making sure that your veggies are warm. Hello roasted veg!

Then yes, hibernate. Curl up with a book. Curl up with a cup of soup as an evening snack. Focus on slow, strength based movement. Curl up.

- Dr. Ashley Margeson


Dr. Ashley Margeson is a Naturopathic Doctor and host of The Superwoman Code, who truly believes that your hormones should work for you, not against you. She is a straight shooter and research nerd who knows that there is a way to live an optimal health without burning out. She delivers this information on the podcast, and then makes it unique to you in her office. A multiple award winner She believes that every one of us has a superpower that makes this world better, and she loves seeing women live their purpose and follow their passions.

You can follow Dr. Ash online on instagram at @drashleymargeson

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