How To Combat SAD, or Winter Blues

SAD, or winter depression, is very common in the northern hemisphere.

Winter depression is something that affects many of us and sometimes we aren't even aware that we have it. Symptoms like tiredness, lethargy and stress are often attributed to 'the weather', or 'having an off day', but winter depression is a recognized illness. This is also known as 'winter blues', or seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and it is caused by a lack of sunlight during the winter. The condition is very common in the northern hemisphere.

Depression-busting nutrition

Good nutrition is important all year round, but fighting off the winter blues requires a bit of extra attention to diet. First of all, never skip meals. Breakfast is essential if the brain is to work correctly; it cannot do so without fuel.

A whole food diet which includes fruit and vegetables of all colors, nuts and fish, will supply vitamin B and amino acids which keep the body and brain in good working order during winter. Fast food, although comforting at times, often contains too much fat and sugar, and will not give the body that 'feel good' factor for more than a few minutes, and could leave behind an even worse feeling of lethargy.

Vitamin C can lift depression

Stress and depression use up huge quantities of vitamin C within the body. Many animals make their own supply of this vitamin but humans cannot. Take, for example, the goat, which can alter its rate of vitamin C production according to the amount of stress it is under, or its general health. Humans need to increase vitamin C intake during times when the body is under stress.

Vitamin C can also stop viruses from dividing inside cells, so it helps the fight against things like the common cold and 'flu'. These viruses tend to attack when resistance is low, so it is essential to replenish vitamin C supplies daily. Fresh fruit and vegetables, and supplements are beneficial here.

Tips for lifting winter depression

Apart from attention to diet, there are a number of other ways that can help to relief SAD. Keeping a sense of humor and trying to have fun is of great importance, but not always easy to do, and rest and relaxation also play a big part in combating this debilitating condition.

Time should be made available for hobbies and talking to friends, and simplifying daily life as much as possible to stop things from mounting up and adding to the pressure and stress.

Alcohol and nicotine, or other non-prescription drugs, may seem to give some relief, but this is only temporary and cannot stop depression. Caffeine can have the same effect on the body as high levels of stress, so it is advisable to keep the intake levels down.

Most importantly of all, if the sun comes out from behind the clouds in that wintry sky, go outside. Tests have shown that just twenty minutes of winter sunshine can help to alleviate the symptoms of SAD sufferers.

You are not alone

Remember that lots of people suffer from winter blues, or seasonal affective disorder, and if the symptoms get too much to handle, consult a doctor. There are many prescription drugs which can help to ease even the most severe cases.

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David Guion
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