SAD: Seasonally Affected Disorder and Avoiding the Winter Blues

 

Do you ever find yourself feeling tired, or a little blue when shorter winter days come along? Maybe you’re just not feeling as cheery; not wanting to participate with others. Maybe you're just feeling a little sad. You may not notice it right away but those dark, dreary, cooler days can creep up quicker than you realize. This is especially true for those of us who live further away from the equator. 

Some of what comes with fall and winter days is completely normal. It's a great time to transition to warm soups, snuggle up in a blanket, and take in a good book by the fire.

While the holidays can be a joyous time of year, sometimes you can find yourself over eating, gaining weight, or withdrawing socially during a particular season of the year. Maybe you find yourself struggling with signs of depression, in particular, late fall and winter? If so, you may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD

Signs of Depression

Depression can manifest in different ways but here are some signs of depression: 

  • Low energy or sluggishness

  • Feelings of hopeless or worthlessness

  • Feeling depressed most or almost every day

  • Problems sleeping

  • Loss of joy or interest in activities you once enjoyed

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Agitation 

  • Thoughts of suicide or death

 

If you find yourself feeling depressed or questioning if you might be suffering from depression or SAD it is important to talk with your health care provider to get the proper care and treatment you need. Depression is serious and treatment with a mental health care professional and medications may be necessary. Never feel ashamed to reach out or get help. You are worth it!  

Tips to Prevent Symptoms of Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD)

Vitamin D

In addition to many cancers and heart disease, vitamin D levels are also linked to depression. It is important to get your levels tested by your physician so as to find the proper dosing for your body. However, taking 2000 IUs of D3 daily can help maintain your levels. It’s important to note that vitamin D is fat soluble which means it is not easily flushed from the body. With that said, it’s important not to take too much as well. 

Eat More Brazil Nuts

Eating just 2 to 5 brazil nuts a day can help increase your B vitamins and selenium. Both important for your mood and well being. 

Exercise

When you move more consistently, you feel better. Bundle up and enjoy the crisp cool air or hop on the treadmill. Whatever gets you moving; do it! Aim for at least 30 minutes, 5 days a week. 

Get outside

Yes it may be cold and wet out but getting outside is important. Even if just for 10 minutes, get some fresh air. Your dopamine and serotonin levels will thank you for it. 

Juice

Not only are all the nutrients you get from fruits and vegetables vital but adding warming herbs like ginger and a little cayenne can help stimulate your digestion, circulation, feeling of vitalization and being warm. 

Light therapy

Light therapy boxes have been found to be effective at helping those suffering from SAD. So wake up and enjoy some light or fit it into your busy schedule some how. The goal here is to simulate the outdoor light you are missing which can lead to chemical changes in the brain. 

Keep a Constant Sleep Cycle

Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep a night but try not to over sleep or hibernate as well. Getting up and taking on the day is just as important to feeling energized and happy. 

Enjoy a Square or Two of Dark Chocolate

Yes you heard that right. Chocolate! But make sure it is high quality. Aim for 70% cocoa and above and low sugar. The polyphenols in it help elevate mood and relieve anxiety. 

Get More Omega’s

You can supplement with omega 3’s or increase your spinach and wild salmon intake. Omega 3’s are important for brain health and help maintain serotonin and dopamine levels. Walnuts, hemp, and chia seeds are just a few more options. 

Socialize

While it may not seem like much, community and connecting with others is important for our overall health and well being. Even if you don’t feel like going out, make a little extra time to meet with a close friend or loved one. Even if just for a cup of tea. 

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