Even in the warm southern state of Alabama, there comes a time when we say goodbye to the bright and cheery days of summer. Soon, the sunshine and warmth of summer will be replaced by the grays and blues that fill the landscape as fall and winter approach. This particular change in seasons can have a really strong impact on the way some people feel.
The winter months bring shorter days and less sunlight which can leave you feeling less energetic. You may find yourself wanting to sleep more or even eating more because it’s just too hard to focus and stay motivated. Maybe you start to withdraw from social events simply because you don’t have the energy to be around people. If any of these sound familiar, you might be slipping into seasonal depression.
Understanding Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that usually appears during the winter months. It can drain your energy and change your mood when left untreated. Fortunately, there are things you can do to lessen your symptoms.
Try Adding More Light To Your Days
Science tells us that bright light can change the chemical balance in the brain. During the winter months, people are exposed to less bright light because of the shorter days which impacts the amount of light exposure. Keeping the light signals strong with exposure to bright morning sun may be more difficult when the days are overcast and short.
Many times, less exposure to light means the body is converting less sunlight to Vitamin D. This could explain some aspects of lethargy and sadness. It seems we need strong signals to the brain to keep our bodies on a light /dark schedule. Bright light in the morning and a very dark bedroom leads to good mental and physical health. If you can’t soak up more sunlight during the day, you might want to consider a light box to help boost your mood.
The Gut-Brain Connection
Did you know that your diet affects more than just your waistline? There are millions of nerves and neurons that run between your gut and brain. This is why food really can affect your mood! You can nurture your gut-brain connection by incorporating a healthy diet into your lifestyle.
Foods high in protein like fish, nuts and omega 3s will help improve your brain function and could boost your mood. Vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, onions and leeks have brain benefit and especially green leafy spinach and kale. Stay away from excessive carbohydrates and processed foods filled with sugar.
One recent study suggested that changing and improving one’s diet maybe 2 to 4 times more effective than taking a medication for treating depression. Unfortunately, many of us eat a SAD diet – the standard American diet. Sometimes a few changes in our food choices over time can really enhance the nutritional content of our diet. Within weeks an impact on our mood and general health can be seen.
Book A Consultation
Of course, not everyone can change their mood by simply eating right and soaking up more sunshine. Depression is a disease that should be treated. If you’ve tried some of these suggestions during the change in season and you’re still struggling, give our office a call.
Our approach is to look at all aspects of your lifestyle and see what choices could enhance your functioning and mood. We believe people have a mind, a body and a spirit – and partner with you using evidence-based approaches that lead to change and wellness. Depression can make it difficult to take care of yourself- if you need a relationship and a team that can help – give us a call!