The American Psychiatric Association has recognized that people who are more depressed in the winter suffer from something called Seasonal Affective Disorder. Symptoms are most likely to appear during fall and winter and can range from mild to moderate.
Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk Thích Nh?t H?nh once shared, “Because you are alive, everything is possible.” But when you are facing the doldrums of winter, when the days are shorter and the temperatures colder, just getting through one day to the next can seem almost impossible
The Link Between Shorter Days and Depression
Some people look forward to the winter months because it means spending time outside in the snow with activities like skiing, snowboarding, or just a good, old fashioned fun like building a snowman or a snowball fight with family and friends. But for others, the thought of winter is downright depressing.
What these people experience is sometimes referred to as “the winter blues”, because they seem more down than usual. The truth is that they are most likely experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder. If this sounds like you or someone you know, then look for the following signs and symptoms.
- Weight Gain – Unlike other forms of depression, those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder are more likely to gain weight than lose it. This is due to the fact that winter weather keeps them indoors and less likely to exercise.
- More Sleep – Again, in contrast with other forms of depression, those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder tend to sleep more than usual. This could mean going to bed earlier, sleeping later in the mornings, or taking naps throughout the day.
- Less Energy – This applies not only to a lack of physical energy, which causes lethargy, but also a lack of mental energy which makes it difficult to concentrate on even the simplest of tasks.
- Less Productivity – This symptom goes hand in hand with having less energy, whether it relates to career, hobbies, or normal everyday tasks around the home. When tasks are completed, they might be done sluggishly and without regard to quality.
- Socially Withdrawn – Whether due to poor mood, general feelings of unhappiness and irritability, people who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder tend to stay alone whenever possible. They lack a general desire to interact with other people.
However what could be the most serious sign of Seasonal Affective Disorder is a general feeling of hopelessness. This is especially important to note if the person also suffers from Bipolar Disease or some other form of depression. Any time someone with Seasonal Affective Disorder talks about suicide, a medical professional should be contacted immediately.
How Diet and Exercise Affect Depression
In addition to treatments like sunlight therapy to fight Seasonal Affective Disorder, diet and exercise also play a role. For example, cardio exercise and yoga both rely on deep breathing. This type of meditative breathing regulates the heartbeat, giving you more energy and naturally lowering stress levels.
In regards to diet, a boost in omega 3s and Vitamin D both help fight Seasonal Affective Disorder. They help keep the brain functioning properly, regulate mood, and increase memory. When combined with exercise these ingredients also fight fatigue and lethargy.
One way that our body obtains these ingredients is through foods we eat, such as salmon or other fish that are chock full of necessary fatty acids like omega 3s, or dairy products or whole grain cereals that are fortified with Vitamin D. But another way our body gets these vital ingredients is through the use of supplements.
The Best Supplements to Fight Seasonal Affective Disorder
If you cannot get the vitamins and nutrients you need to stay healthy through the foods you eat, then it may be necessary to supplement your diet with a multivitamin. While there are plenty of vitamins on the market to help you maintain good health, not all of them help you fight the winter blues.
The best supplement to fight Seasonal Affective Disorder is one that contains a proper blend of vitamins and minerals along with the benefits of glutathione and other powerful antioxidants. The antioxidants give your body an added health boost by fighting free radicals that cause disease.
Talk to your doctor to see what is right for you along with any other tips to help see you through the doldrums associated with the shorter days of winter. And before you know it, you will be enjoying the longer days and warmer temperatures of spring and summer.