Feeling a little SAD? by Dr. Nicole Hwang, ND

With the days becoming noticeably shorter, many Canadians will be affected by some degree of seasonal mood changes, the most severe form being Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  SAD is a type of depression that begins in late Autumn and continues through the Winter months. The decrease in sunlight can disrupt your circadian rhythm (your internal clock), increase melatonin (your sleep hormone), and can alter serotonin transmission (you mood balancing hormone). 

Do you notice yourself feeling increasingly tired? And a little sad? But only in the winter? This could be the beginning symptoms of SAD. Other symptoms can include:

  • feeling depressed most days
  • anxiety/excessive worrying
  • irritability
  • oversleeping
  • social withdrawal
  • sugar/carbohydrate cravings
  • weight gain
  • suicidal thoughts

But what can be done to treat SAD? The conventional treatments include light therapy, antidepressants, and psychotherapy. However, there are many other avenues you can take to improve your mood as well. You can incorporate these lifestyle changes into your daily routine:

  • exercise
  • proper sleep hygiene
  • keeping rooms brightly lit
  • getting out into the sunshine as much as possible

Supplements can also have a huge impact on SAD symptoms. St. John’s wort and fish oils for example can act as antidepressants; while 5-HTP and SAMe can improve mood by increasing serotonin levels. You can also incorporate other holistic treatments such as acupuncture, yoga, meditation, and massage therapy.

It is important to note that you should always consult a specialist before adding/making any changes to your current treatment plan to ensure that all treatments are safe and appropriate for you to help you feel happier faster.

Have a happy Autumn!

Dr. Nicole Hwang, ND


Dr. Nicole Hwang BSc(Hons), ND

Nicole is a board certified Naturopathic Doctor with a special interest in family medicine, digestive health, hormone balancing, stress management, cardiovascular health, and weight loss. Using nutritional and lifestyle counseling, as well as but not limited to botanical medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, and hydrotherapy, Nicole creates unique treatment plans for each of her patients based on their individual needs and circumstances.

Growing up with a practicing herbalist for a father, Nicole was exposed to natural medicine from an early age and got to witness its efficacy first hand. Also, as a young athlete Nicole learned from her own experience the importance of a healthy diet and lifestyle on performance and overall well-being. After completing her bachelors degree in Life Sciences at McMaster University her cumulative passion for science and natural forms of health and healing led her to the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine where she graduated with a degree in Naturopathic Medicine. Nicole is very excited to be taking new patients as the newest member of the Treatments Wellness Centre team. 

Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic medicine is an integrative form of primary health care that focuses on treating the whole person. Treating acute and chronic illnesses, naturopathic medicine identifies the root causes of disease and stimulates the innate healing ability of the body. 

The goal of naturopathic medicine is to optimize wellbeing in each patient through individualized treatments.

To learn more about naturopathic medicine and the rigorous training process that every ND must complete, visit the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors website at: