*Note: I’m not a doctor. This is not a medical website. I’m actually not a real writer either….*
It’s that time.
Darkest time of the year for most of the world.
Even here in Florida the sun is noticeably weak. It’s ⅓ the strength it is in the summer. Bad news for us solar-powered folks (you’re one of them).
I’m feeling the SAD. A lot of other people are too. Maybe you’re lucky enough not to notice. About 10% of people definitely notice.
Depression, psychomotor retardation, carb cravings, constant sleepiness, lethargy, cognitive impairment, withdrawal, anxiety, hopelessness, no sex drive, craving sunshine – it’s okay, you’re normal if you’re feeling these.
That’s just your body wanting to slow down and hibernate like most other animals, but humans haven’t quite factored that into the go-go-go lifestyle.
If you’re in the unfortunate group who seriously struggle to function this time of the year – don’t worry, I got you covered.
Surviving Seasonal Affective Disorder the NudeSpots Way
“Does it involve getting naked, Austin?”
If you’re hardcore it does. We’re all killer, no filler here.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?
Also called the “winter blues” or “winter depression,” seasonal affective disorder is a depressive disorder many people suffer from during the least sunny months of the year.
Depending on the latitude, it affects 1-10% of people and the symptoms can start as early as autumn and last until spring. The effects are the worst at the darkest time of winter in December/January. Strangely, it’s onset typically doesn’t appear until people’s mid-20’s.
Humans are solar powered and many people are living in low-sun latitudes they simply aren’t evolved for. Take away our sun and we lose some energy. Those with SAD suffer a significant, sometimes life-disrupting (sometimes life-ending), loss of energy.
It mainly comes down to one simple thing: bright light. (You know, like sunlight.)
Our brains require bright light exposure to our eyeballs (retinas) to get the serotonin squirting – the neurotransmitter that makes you feel upbeat, happy, alert, energetic, sharp, and on-point. Proper serotonin function is essential for physical and mental performance and emotional well-being.
There’s no light brighter than the sun. More sunshine on your face = more serotonin.
A sunny day is 100,000+ lux (illuminance). A regular light bulb is less than 1,000 lux. Nothing compares to the sun.
Ever wonder why everyone is so happy at the beach on a sunny day and so groggy, slow, and grumpy on a rainy day?
It’s mainly the bright light affecting people.
“But, Austin, I *LOVE* rainy days.”
Get the fuck off this website and never come back. I’m not kidding. Never come back.
Nobody Wants a Rainy Week
Why do I bring up a rainy week? Sunlight-wise, it’s a mini-winter that produces the same effects as seasonal affective disorder.
If you live in scorching hot Florida, yeah, yeah, yeah, you might enjoy the cooling relief a rainy weekend brings. It’s nice to see the plants perk up after they get some water. Rain washes away the dog poop. As a resident of Miami Beach though, I can tell you you’ll never see the beach more packed than on the first sunny day after we’ve had a rainy week. People suffering a rainy week know they’re being deprived of something very important.
You might enjoy one or two rainy days, but nobody wants a rainy/cloudy week.
It’s not just the actual rain, it’s the LACK OF LIGHT that bothers people.
Maybe you’re an anomaly who can live with less sunshine, but nobody is immune from the serotonin-impairing effects of sunlight deficiency. You’re going to be a little slower and dumpier if you’re not getting some sunshine.
Serotonin & Melatonin – Two Sides of the Same Coin?
Now it’s not just that a lack of sunshine results in less serotonin, less light to your eyes actually triggers the release of serotonin’s opposite – melatonin.
Melatonin makes you sleepy and want to go to bed. That’s why it’s sold as a sleep aid. Your body also makes it and when the sun goes down your brain turns off the serotonin and starts squirting out melatonin.
Serotonin and melatonin are both actually made of the same precursor, 5-HTP. That’s why 5-HTP supplements are used for both improving mood and helping with sleep. More 5-HTP gives you more serotonin and melatonin.
Sunrise: you get a dose of serotonin that wakes you up and gets you going early in the day.
Sunset: your brain hits you with some melatonin to help you wind down.
Humans are not nocturnal. We’re evolved to wake and sleep with the sun.
“But, Austin, I *AM* nocturnal.”
No, you’re not. Shut up. Humans can only be nocturnal with the aid of modern electric light technology. Be nocturnal in pure darkness and see how that works out for you. The science ain’t on your side.
When the Sun Gets Weak
As the sun weakens throughout autumn into winter the shorter days and weaker sun bring about later and weaker serotonin releases and earlier, longer-lasting melatonin secretions.
Nobody is immune, but people’s sensitivities to this vary.
Depending on where you live and how sensitive you are, light-wise, autumn and winter can seem like a 6-month-long rainy week with all of it’s famous symptoms – grogginess, sleepiness, lack of energy, slower brain, and depressed mood.
And Then There’s The Vitamin D Thang
With the seasonal weakening of the sun comes the seasonal dropping of people’s vitamin D levels. ALL seasonal population vitamin D level studies demonstrate this. Less sun = lower average vitamin D levels. For most of the U.S. it is physically impossible to cutaneously synthesize vitamin D from sunlight during the winter months. For those in the northern states and Canada, it is completely impossible for literally half of the entire year.
What do low vitamin D levels mean? More depression, slower brain, worse sleep, lower testosterone, worse PMS, weaker muscles, weaker immune system, and much more.
Vitamin D has been proven to be involved in over 2,000 biological processes in your body. If you’re deficient you’re going to feel pretty poopy.
It’s for this reason that I consider seasonally dropping vitamin D levels and the subsequent effects of vitamin D-deficiency to also be a significant part of seasonal affective disorder, although vitamin D is typically not included in the SAD discussions and literature.
Combine the traditionally-recognized symptoms of SAD with the symptoms of vitamin D-deficiency and it’s amazing people continue to function at all in the winter.
How to Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder (The NudeSpots Way)
If the winter blues are kicking your ass, here’s what you need to survive:
Strong bright light every day, as early in the morning as possible. You’ll need a light box.
Vitamin D supplement
Get outside in the sunshine as much as possible. Ideally naked…
Exercise (at least a little bit every day)
Count your blessings, gratitude
Psilocybin mushrooms (for adults)
You might have to move closer to the equator if it’s life or death
Bright Light First Thing in the Morning
Even in sunny Florida, it’s hard to get some sunshine on your face if you’re an early riser. I usually have to wait hours for the sun to get strong. That won’t do. You need bright light ASAP when you wake up to turn off the melatonin and turn on the serotonin.
It’s easier than ever. I use a cheap little 10,000 lux light tablet I bought off Amazon. It works. Just indirectly shine it on your face for 30 minutes while you drink your morning coffee and take that first poop.
Let the artificial bright joyfulness fill your soul as you evacuate your bowels. You can also use it any time of the year on rainy days or if you wake up way before the sun.
Bright light has been found to be just as effective for depression as pharmaceutical antidepressants.
I typically don’t recommend taking vitamin D supplements because it’s actually a bit complicated if you want to do it perfectly. Dialing in your perfect dose requires regular blood testing and everybody is unique depending on body fat content, ethnicity, your endocrine system, and metabolic clearance, but read up on vitamin D dosing and get with your doctor about this.
Your ability to make vitamin D from sun exposure will be significantly limited or, more likely, completely eliminated during winter.
Many studies have found vitamin D to be a significant factor in depression and one study in particular found it to be an effective treatment for seasonal affective disorder specifically.
We’re all different, but if I’m not getting much sun I’ll take 50,000 IU per week. Nude sunbathing works better, but we have to do what we have to do sometimes.
It’s a natural antidepressant. No side effects. Very safe. I buy mine at the local grocery store. Take it for three weeks, then take a week off. Repeat until spring. Unlike SSRI’s, there’s no documented cases of 5-HTP turning anyone into a school shooter.
– 300mg per day (100mg 3 x per day) week 1
– 200mg per day week 2
– 100 mg per day week3
– No 5-HTP week 4
-Repeat cycle next month
Get Outside as Much as Possible
All I do is talk about the health benefits of sunshine. Here’s the thing: it’s outside of wherever you’re probably reading this. No buildings, no roofs. Get out in the sun. Get as naked as you can. This is scientifically the best way to get vitamin D, but sunlight has many other benefits besides vitamin D that you won’t get from supplements. You’re also getting the bright light to your eyes, sun exposure causes your body to release feel-good endorphins, UV reduces blood pressure, and being in nature has its own special benefits.
Exercise has been found to be just as effective for depression as medications. Do whatever you want, just get your blood pumping and sweat going.
Besides reducing depression, exercise also makes you sexy and being sexy is great. You’ll get more sex.
(By the way, are you noticing that a lot of these have been found to independently work as good as pharmaceutical drugs? Try combining them. Exercise outdoors, naked, in the sunshine, with no sunglasses. Boom. Should be 3x more powerful than SSRI’s.)
Mandatory. Write down 10 different things you’re grateful for everyday. Do it while enjoying your bright light box and coffee on the toilet.
If you have a toilet, be grateful for that. Some people poop in cinder blocks.
Psilocybin Mushrooms (FOR ADULTS ONLY)
This is risky and controversial, but the science is overwhelmingly on the side of magic mushrooms as a miraculous treatment for depression. They’ve played quite a role in my life. They’re highly illegal and you’re taking a big risk by possessing them, but if you can find a way….
Time Magazine is on board.
They probably trump every other thing on this list.
Try to become a subject in a legal psilocybin study.
If you can, schedule your vacation time in the winter and go somewhere sunny. You’ll get a big dose of sunshine at this critical time and you’re also giving yourself a restful break when you need it most.
Many SAD patients report a winter beach vacation significantly improving their SAD symptoms.
The Best Way to Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder
Get started early. Be preventative. Once you know you have SAD, you have an advantage. Start your SAD survival routine BEFORE winter starts affecting you. As soon as you notice the sun getting weaker and the days shorter, act. It’s much easier to prevent winter depression from the start than it is to pull yourself out of it after suffering for a month.
Move (If It’s That Bad)
If winter depression is debilitating and literally ruining your life, move closer to the equator. Don’t tough it out. Try the other things on this list a few winters, but if they’re not enough THEN MOVE.
Moving is a pain in the ass, but suicide is worse.
I was already in Florida, but decided to move 250 miles south to Miami Beach. The sun is actually noticeably stronger here. My winter depressions the last two years have been much less severe.
I know other people who have moved south to Florida for the exact same reason.
Until Next Time
Geeeeeeez, what a bummer article.
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Sometimes being happy takes a lot of deliberate effort. I hope this article helps you.
Get naked, stay naked, never not be naked,
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