4 Health Tips for Overcoming the Winter Blues
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that occurs with changes in the season. Prevalence of SAD increases the further you get from the equator, and it is 4x more prevalent in women.
Common symptoms of winter-onset SAD include:
Food cravings for carbohydrates
Below are my top simple recommendations to help prevent SAD
Fuel Your Brain with a Whole Foods Based Diet
Eat the rainbow daily!
Purchase organic when possible - especially the Dirty Dozen from the Environmental Working Group.
Eat healthy fats! -- A diet rich in healthy fats fuels the brain. Some examples of great fat sources include coconut oil, avocado, butter, nuts and seeds.
Ensure you are getting enough protein. The average person requires 0.8 g/kilogram of body weight, and these requirements go up with increased activity.
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Aim to get 30 minutes of movement daily, 7 days a week. Even if some days of the week you only have time for a 20 minute walk on your lunch break, it is better than nothing! As little as 5 minutes outside in nature exercising has shown improvements in mood.
An exercise prescription also has cardiovascular benefits as well as being cognitively protective.
3. Take Vitamin D3
At this latitude on Vancouver Island in Canada, we simply do not get enough sun exposure throughout the year to allow our body to produce an adequate amount of vitamin D.
Current Health Canada recommendations are that everyone should supplement vitamin D throughout the year.
Dosing of Vitamin D3 depends on the level of deficiency, I recommend getting your blood levels of vitamin D tested. From this, it can be determined how much vitamin D you should be taking. It is not uncommon for me to recommend in deficient patients to take between 5,000 IU and 10,000 IU a day.
Vitamin D3 is the optimal form of Vitamin D to supplement with, and since it is a fat-soluble vitamin, taking it as an oil emulsion or with another fat source is ideal for absorption.
4. Invest in a LightBox
Helpful for SAD as well as Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). A recent study from 2016 found light therapy to be more effective than Prozac for MDD not seasonally related.
Ensure the lightbox you purchase is a minimum of 10,000 lux
Use within the 1st hour of waking in the morning
Approximately 20—30 minutes per day
16-24 inches from face
Eyes open, but not looking directly at the light
Share this article with friends and family who are experiencing changes in their mood with the seasons.
If you are interested in learning more treatment options for seasonal depression, book a free 15 minute meet and greet with Dr. Stephanie.