Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder include sadness, moodiness, low motivation and energy and excessive need for sleep.
Some of the triggers for this condition are history of depression or a family history of depression or bi-polar disorder, irregular sleep patterns, lack of sunlight, chronic stress, and low levels of Vitamin D, poor diet, poor digestion and food sensitivities.
Phew… it’s a wonder more people don’t suffer from this condition as many of us have some of these underlying issues.
So what can we do to minimize the risk or help treat the symptoms of this common seasonal complaint?
Diet: Increase your intake of whole foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains) and minimize processed grains and sugars (anything in a package with a LONG list of ingredients).
Green tea, dark chocolate and omega 3 rich fish have all been shown to help reduce inflammation and improve moods.
Vitamin D: This is called the sunshine vitamin and many people suffering with SAD have been shown to have low levels of this important vitamin. Taking this vitamin in supplement form between October and April is crucial for anyone suffering with SAD.
Omega 3 oils: Foods rich in omega 3 include salmon, cod liver oil, herring, sardines, anchovies, mackerel, hemp, chia and flax seeds. However, it is often useful to get a good quality omega 3 fish oil in a liquid or capsule form in order to improve your mental outlook.
Probiotics: The connection between the gut and the brain has become more widely accepted and so taking a good quality probiotic daily can go a long way to improving both your mental and digestive health.
Sleep: Prioritizing good sleeping habits and supporting your natural circadian rhythms is critical for SAD management. Make sure that you have a comfortable bed, bedding, and pillows. Create a safe sanctuary in your bedroom. Develop a regular relaxing nighttime routine and limit all screens 30 minutes before you go to bed.
Gratitude: Having regular gratitude, prayer or spiritual practices are some of the best ways to improve your mood and reduce symptoms of SAD. Begin your morning by counting the blessings in your life. Stop throughout the day to appreciate three little things that make you happy, and finish your day writing down three things you are grateful for.
Movement: When people are depressed getting out and exercising is not an easy task, but starting slowly, even 10 minutes of walking a day, has been shown to have powerful mood enhancing benefits.
Endorphins, those feel good chemicals in our brains, are stimulated when we move, so get out for a short walk, dance to your favorite song, climb the stairs in your house a few extra times a day, park a bit further away from the grocery store or do a YouTube yoga class.
I hope that this information has been helpful. If you have questions please reach out to me at www.drdavisnd.ca or 306-224-0012.