As the nights start to get a bit longer, and the sun sets a little earlier each day, many people will start to feel the effects of a disorder that affects about five percent of Americans. Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a form of depression that typically occurs in the fall and winter months and is often called the “winter blues”. The good news is that there several tried and tested home remedies that have proven efficient in alleviating some of the symptoms of SAD, which can include changes in appetite, loss of energy, and difficulty concentrating.
Before we dive into some of the home remedies for treating SAD it is important to note that depression affects a huge and growing number of people worldwide. According to estimates, around 7.4 percent of adult Americans suffer from some form of depression. If you or a loved one is being affected by mental illness, there are resources available online that can help. Receiving a mental health diagnosis can be difficult but learning to accept help is a good step towards a more content life.
The Right Diet for the Season
Maintaining a healthy mind starts with what a person puts into their body. Eating a balanced diet all year round is important. This means changing things up to fit the season. Most people will need to eat more fruits and vegetables during the winter months to ensure they receive the right amounts of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C and iron, both of which play an important role in keeping the immune system performing as it should. Vegetables like tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and oranges are a good source of vitamin C. Leafy greens such as spinach offer a good source of iron.
People affected by SAD should also try and incorporate foods such as whole grains, eggs, poultry such as chicken and duck, and milk into their diets during winter. These foods are all rich in vitamin B12 and the amino acid tryptophan, both of which play a vital role in the production of the so-called “happy chemical”, serotonin.
The Sunshine Vitamin
Another way to boost the levels of serotonin in a person’s body is through exposure to sunlight, which is synthesized by the skin to aid in the production of this essential chemical.
According to researchers, the average person should get about two hours of sun a day in winter to keep their vitamin D levels as they should be. While spending two hours a day soaking up the sun would be nice, this isn’t really an option for people who have to work during the warmest hours of the day. Scientists thus recommend that a person tries to get at least 10-15 minutes of sun a day that can be supplemented with a vitamin D supplement.
Healthy Body for a Healthy Mind
Not only does exercise ensure that a person’s body stays active, but it has also been shown to have a major impact on mental health. According to Clinical Psychologist James Blumenthal of Duke University, active people are less depressed than inactive people. In a study conducted on the effects of exercise among adults with major depressive disorders, Blumenthal found that patients that performed supervised or home-based exercises had higher rates of remission than patients on antidepressant therapy.
While these home remedies can assist in keeping some of the symptoms of SAD at bay it is important to note that a person should always seek professional advice should they find themselves struggling with any depressive disorder.