Across the globe, many people feel the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder. But the right greenery can help alleviate your case of the winter blues.
There’s nothing like plantlife to spruce up the look of your space. The right greenery has been shown to help alleviate the winter blues, which is why many people (and even some medical practices) use plants for seasonal depression, stress, and anxiety relief.
According to research from Texas A&M University and published in the Journal of Environmental Horticulture, people who surround themselves with plant life experience emotional and mental health benefits that positively impact their social, psychological, physical, cognitive, environmental, and spiritual wellbeing.
And for the many people who feel the effects of seasonal depression—often known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD for short)—plants can be an effective way of finding relief.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?
To understand how plants help alleviate the effects of SAD, the first step is to understand exactly what SAD is.
SAD is a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons, which is why it generally tends to begin and end at about the same time every year. If you're like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. It can even cause feelings of depression in the spring or early summer.
Symptoms of SAD often include:
- Feeling like sleeping all the time or having trouble getting a good night’s sleep
- Being tired constantly, making it tough to take on daily tasks
- Changes in your appetite, such as craving sugary and starchy foods
- Seasonal weight gain
- Feeling sad, guilty, or down on yourself
- Being more irritable than usual
- Feeling tense and stressed
While most people who suffer from SAD tend to brush it off as “winter blues,” the good news is that you can take proactive steps in order to minimize its impact on your daily life.
How Plants Can Impact Seasonal Affective Disorder
For anyone who suffers from SAD, there’s a simple, cost-effective, and all-natural way to help reduce the symptoms you’re feeling (and as a bonus, they can help make your space look better and livelier too).
Plants have proven benefits for your wellbeing, which can help brighten up your day when you’re feeling the winter blues.
Plants Help Reduce Stress and Create a Feeling of Wellbeing
One of the big reasons you can use plants for depression and SAD symptoms is that spending time in natural settings helps speed up recovery from mental fatigue, slows down your heart rate, reduces high blood pressure, and lowers anxiety.
In fact, numerous studies have shown that interaction with nature results in greater feelings of positivity and hopefulness, comfort and relaxation, and general overall happiness and satisfaction with life.
Plants Help Improve Air Quality
Snake Plants in Modern Elite Planters at Laurel Park Raceway
Randy Nelson, Ph.D., a professor of neuroscience at the Ohio State University, is among the first people to study the impact of air quality on our brain and behavior. His research showed a connection between reduced air quality (specifically pollution) and depressive-like behaviors.
His findings were also backed up by a study conducted by Portuguese researchers, which found that people who lived in areas associated with greater levels of air pollution scored higher on tests of anxiety and depression.
And while your home or workspace may not necessarily be polluted, breathing cleaner air can go a long way towards relieving the effects of SAD.
Plants have a proven ability to improve air quality (for more on this, check out this study conducted by NASA), including:
- Reducing carbon dioxide levels
- Increasing humidity
- Reducing levels of certain pollutants, such as benzene and nitrogen dioxide
- Reducing airborne dust levels
- Keeping air temperatures down
When you consider these factors, plants seem to be the natural choice for helping to reduce the symptoms of SAD by improving the quality of the air you breathe.
Plants Help Lower Background Noise
Being in a noisy environment isn’t just annoying. Research has shown that noise annoyance could actually be contributing to anxiety and depression.
Plants can actually help reduce background noise and, in turn, noise annoyance.
Thick, fleshy leaves, stems, leaves, and branches actually absorb sound.
And plants also help deflect noise too.
When sound hits a masonry wall, the wall does not vibrate (because it’s rigid). Sound waves are reflected off the wall and back toward the source. But when sound waves hit a flexible material, such as plants, the material vibrates, and the waves are transformed into other forms of energy as well as being deflected in other directions.
So, the more plants you have and the bigger they are, the more they’ll be able to help reduce background noise that can contribute to anxiety and depression.
Plants That Can Help With Depression
So, what are the best plants for depression symptoms? Your best bet is those that help purify the air, reduce noise transfer, and offer other healing properties.
Here are eight options that will help.
Basil: Linalool, a compound found in basil, makes the plant smell delicious, and it can help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
Red-Edged Dracaena: Also known as dragon tree, this plant helps battle trichloroethylene and xylene, among a number of other pollutants fought by this spiky, slow-growing plant.
Barberton Daisy: As well as injecting a cheerful burst of red, yellow, orange or pink into your home, the Barberton daisy is an effective cleanser of the toxins formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and benzene, found in a range of household materials from paints to synthetic fibers.
Lavender: Whether in plant or essential oil form, lavender is one of the most widely researched anti-anxiety herbs out there.
Aloe Vera: In addition to looking great, this succulent will purify the air of formaldehyde and benzene, found in varnishes, floor finishes, and detergents.
Snake Plant: Also known as Mother-in-Law's Tongue, this yellow-tipped succulent releases oxygen at night, helping you to breathe better while sleeping. It is one of the best plants for filtering the air of formaldehyde, xylene, benzene, toluene, and trichloroethylene.
Rosemary: This woody herb has been said to encourage inner peace, promote positivity, and ease depression and anxiety.
Spider Plant: The resilient spider plant will quietly battle toxins, including carbon monoxide and xylene, a solvent used in the printing and rubber industries.
For many people across the world, Seasonal Affective Disorder can be seriously tolling on mood and mental wellbeing throughout a big chunk of the year.
Luckily, plants are a simple, cost-effective, all-natural, and aesthetically-pleasing solution to the winter blues.
If you’d like to learn about how to pick the right planters for your space, contact us to speak with one of our experts today. We’re here to help answer any questions you might have.