Stop the Winter Blues and Seasonal Affective Disorder NOW
You know it’s coming … that time of year when you just feel down, have no energy, and would be perfectly happy hibernating until spring. The winter blues aren’t just in your head, they are a true physical condition referred to as “Seasonal Affective Disorder” (SAD). SAD can affect anyone in cold climates, although senior citizens and children tend to have it less frequently.
Note: Depression is a serious condition. If you experience depression that interferes with your daily life, please seek professional help and do not try to treat yourself. Please discuss any new therapy or supplement with your practitioner before starting. Please also be aware that none of these statements were evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness.
Although the exact cause of SAD is unknown, research indicates that the lack of sunshine during the dark days of winter can cause:
- Decreases in Vitamin D levels in the body: Low Vitamin D levels are known to contribute to depression and lack of energy
- Interference with circadian rhythms: Our body is designed to awaken when the sun goes up and to go to sleep when the sun goes down. The short days of winter interfere with these patterns, which appears to decrease the production of Serotonin, a “feel good” hormone.
- Reduced Melatonin levels: Decreased sunlight exposure seems to reduce the production of Melatonin in the brain. This can, in turn, lead to depression and sleep problems.
- Decreased physical activity: Most people aren’t as active in the winter as they are in the summer. Because exercise increases serotonin levels, a decrease in physical activity can negatively impact mood.
So how do you combat the effects caused by winter’s dark and gloomy days? Any of the following may help:
- Use of a full-spectrum light bulb: Spending 10-20 minutes per day sitting in front a full-spectrum light bulb can help stimulate the body to produce Vitamin D and other chemicals essential to a good mood. Most health food stores sell full-spectrum light bulbs, or complete lamp sets and floor lamps can be purchased. I like the lamp set sold by Lights of America: http://amzn.to/ou0Q1a.
- Take a Vitamin D supplement: The typical recommended dosage of daily Vitamin D during the winter is 2000 IU/day, although levels of 5000-10,000 IU can usually be taken safely. I recommend asking your doctor to check your Vitamin D levels the next time you have blood work done. Although the test results will indicate that anything above 25 is “normal,” most people do not feel well unless their levels are between 50-75. (I give you permission to argue with your doctor on what the optimal levels are if s/he thinks a lower level is acceptable. The 50-75 level is associated with lower inflammation in the body and with lower cancer rates.) Also be aware that taking 2000 IU/day of Vitamin D is known to be MORE effective than a flu shot at preventing winter illnesses, so it’s a win-win! This is my favorite Vitamin D supplement: http://amzn.to/1auAwhF. For more information on Vitamin D, please read: 20 Surprising Facts About Vitamin D.
- Don’t be a hermit: It’s important to get out and have FUN during winter months. Although it may be tempting to become a homebody, getting out of the house to have fun is very important.
- Exercise: If you don’t like the word “exercise,” then engage in “fun sweaty activity” instead. As referenced above, exercising increases serotonin levels in the brain, which naturally makes you feel better and have a more positive outlook.
Again, please seek professional help if you experience a depression that interferes with your ability to cope or if you begin considering harming yourself.
My passion is helping people improve their health and lifestyle by identifying and correcting systemic imbalances. I have helped thousands of people eliminate their health challenges using a holistic approach. If you are ready to find a new level of wellness, please contact me to schedule a consultation. I will help you identify the cause of health challenges and will then work with you to create a plan to reverse them.
Does SAD affect you? Please share your story and what techniques work for you. We can beat this!
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