You or someone you know may very well be prone to the winter blues, even the summer blues, without even knowing it.
Seasonal affective disorder (or SAD) is a form of depression experienced during certain times of the year. Most suffer from SAD during the winter months (the winter-blues), while others may notice varied symptoms in the spring and summer.
It’s no surprise that those who live in colder climates are more prone to the effects of SAD since light is thought to play an important role and may be the catalyst that triggers the winter blues.
Seasonal affective disorder symptoms
The symptoms of SAD vary. Some may suffer from feeling a little down or sad, while others may find themselves in a severe depression, yet others find they are in between. The duration can last from a few days to months.
The most common symptoms include:
- Feeling of hopelessness
- Withdrawal from social activities
- Weight gain
- Difficulty concentrating
- Loss of interest in everyday activities
- Heavy or “leaded” feeling in arms and or legs
- Loss of energy
- Loss of focus
- Oversleeping or excessive napping
- Changes in appetite including a strong craving for high-carb foods and sugar
- Low self-esteem
- Obsessiveness over little things
Causes of Seasonal Affective Disorder
According to WebMD the lack of natural light in the winter leads to lower levels of serotonin which is thought to be a major contributor of depression.
In a study done at Humboldt University in Berlin researches gave participants an online diary and we’re asked to answer questions daily as it pertained to their levels of tiredness, positive and negative moods and more.
The study found, among other interesting findings, that “temperature, wind, and sunlight were found to have an effect on negative mood. Sunlight seemed to play a role on how tired people said they were.”
Foods that help fight Seasonal Affective Disorder
The traditional course taken to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder is for a physician to prescribe medications, therapy and even light therapy.
However, there are some foods that boost serotonin naturally thereby helping us to feel less “blue”.
These foods include:
Popcorn –Easy to make and a great on-the-go snack
Nuts –Who does not like some kind of nut? Heck some of us love them so much we married one! Oatmeal –Why not make some breakfast bars with fresh fruits and nuts in them? Here’s a great recipe for baked oatmeal snack bars that are sure to please.
Egg-whites –Omelets are a great way to start the day.
Peanut butter –How about a PB sandwich on whole-wheat bread?
Vegetables –Prewashed and preferably fresh and uncooked.
Whole grains –We’re talking breads and crackers here.
Cottage cheese –Add some fresh fruit and you have a great tasting treat!
There are many ways to prepare dishes and desserts using these foods that are sure to please any member of your home. You’ll be helping them to fight the winter blues and they won’t even know it.
Try to avoid processed foods as much as possible. Also, substitute sugar cravings with fresh fruit. Fruit contains natural sugars that help increase serotonin. Though, a proper diet full of healthy foods and healthier desserts should always be followed no matter what time of year.
In addition, keep your home and or office as well lit as possible. Use the sun’s natural rays to improve your mood and keep plants close by as well.
These tips are in no way intended to be a cure-all for the winter blues or depression. This article was written solely to provide information on Seasonal Affective Disorder and nothing more.
The Mayo Clinic