How to Beat the Winter Blues

Article courtesy of Dr. Claire Morris, ND.  Visit her at ClaireMorrisND.com.

Winter blues….post-holiday, cold weather depression – you know what I’m talking about.  There are a variety of physical reasons this occurs.  More women are subject to depression from low light levels. In the winter there is less daylight and sun exposure, made worse by bad weather when we stay indoors.  Cholesterol is used both in the brain and hormone production.  Sunshine is necessary for cholesterol metabolism.


Mingle’n’Give

After a month of a full-throttle social life, it comes to a screeching halt with New Year’s Day.  Being around people is one way to fight depression.  Depression tends to come more easily when we are self-focused.  Putting yourself aside and helping someone else will lift your spirits and make you feel good.

Exercise

Often winter is semi-hibernation time when it comes to exercise.  According to the Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute exercise can actually prevent depression and will help people already experiencing mild to moderate symptoms of depression.

Use uplifting but soothing music.  This helps the transition from familiar Christmas songs to spring weather.

Food

Eating right will fight depression.  What you eat has a giant impact on your health but the news flash is it also affects your mood.  Certain foods will make depression worse and others will boost your mood.  Eating some comfort foods occasionally is good but using it as a drug can cause weight gain and more depression.  Watch out for sugars they will pick you up the let you crash.  Caffeine can have a similar affect.

Instead, eat whole foods which contain complex carbohydrates, as opposed to refined foods full of sugar.  This increases serotonin production and has a long lasting affect.  These complex carbohydrates also increase your body’s level of tryptophan, an amino acid that helps banish depression.  A Scandinavian research trial showed the amino acid worked as well as the drug imipramine in treating depression.  For some people increasing their protein intake helps.

Don’t wait too long to eat this could cause blood sugars to drop and increase fatigue and depression.  Avoid artificial sweeteners aspartame can possibly block the formation of serotonin.

Vitamins & Minerals

Vitamins, especially the B’s, are useful in beating the blues.  Researchers found people who took in the least amount of B12 were mostly to suffer from depression and memory loss.  High homocysteine levels affect everyone.  It is damaging to the heart but new research shows that people with the highest homocysteine scored lowest on mental tests and showed symptoms of declining brain power.

Herbs

Herbs may also be helpful in overcoming depression.  The most common herbs include:  St. John’s wort, lemon balm, kava kava; and the amino acid l-tryptophan.  In men low testosterone may cause depression.


Depression affects 22 percent of Americans aged eighteen and older every year.  “The best offense is a strong defense.”  Be proactive, get active and defend yourself from depression.

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