February 15. The Christmas and New Year’s holidays are becoming distant memories. Spring is still many weeks away for many of us. Winter has been here for a solid two months (or more in some places) and the sun has been largely absent for months in many of our lives! No wonder the winter blues tend to hit this time of year!
For some of us however, it is more than just a ‘blue’ feeling. With little sunlight, cold temperatures, and darkness prevailing, many of us can start to suffer from seasonal affective disorder, nicknamed ‘SAD’ this time of year. It is a real disorder marked by low vitamin D levels, low mood, affect, a tendency to want to sleep and eat moor with little motivation, and sluggishness. Serotonin levels may also be lower, leading to increased risk of depression.
So what can we do about this other than take trips to tropical destinations? Well, thankfully, a lot!
One of the simplest things someone can do is to boost their exposure to full-spectrum light by getting a natural sunlamp. Simply by sitting near this for 15-20 minutes daily has been shown to be helpful in combating SAD.
Similarly, supplementing with vitamin D and one of the serotonin precursors such as 5HTP or L-tryptophan can also go a long way in boosting mood as well as immune function. Increasing your intake of omega 3 fatty acids is also very helpful as some studies illustrate these anti-inflammatory compounds equal or even outperform antidepressant medications when it comes to fighting low mood and affect!
So, if you’re feeling down and really finding yourself struggling, it’s important to recognize that there may be a serious physical ‘component’ to this, especially at this time of year. Remember we primarily get our vitamin D from the sun and for 85% of the country, the sun is too weak and it’s too cold in general to get much if any vit D from approximately mid-October until April from the sun. So anyone living basically north of Los Angeles, Phoenix, Dallas, and Atlanta should be especially careful and support yourself, mood-wise!
Thankfully this doesn’t need to be an overly complicated intervention!