winter blues

Natural Remedies to Beat the “Winter Blues”

Winter is the time of year we love to keep cozy, spend time with family and friends, and eat lots of good food. For some though, it can be a time of increased sadness. Comfort food is more often consumed along with decreased physical activity, which can lead to low mood and energy, increasing the risk of depression. Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D) affects more than half a million Americans each year and is a recognized form of clinical depression, commonly referred to as the “winter blues” or “winter depression.” Stressful life events, family history, or other emotional issues may contribute to S.A.D. Women are more commonly reported to have S.A.D. However, it may occur with anyone, regardless of age or gender. winter blues

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

Recognizing the symptoms is the first step in seeking the proper treatment. Symptoms can vary from person to person and range from mild to severe, usually occurring between the months of September and April. People generally experience more severe symptoms between the months of December and February.

Symptoms typically include:

  • Negative thoughts and feelings of sadness
  • Irritability
  • Poor appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Increased food cravings
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Social isolation
  • Sleep disturbances

 

Scientists believe vitamin D deficiency due to lack of sunlight may be one of the causes of S.A.D. This is because of vitamin D deficiency preventing a part of the brain, known as the hypothalamus, from working properly. In turn, the disruption in the function of the hypothalamus leads to an imbalance in circadian rhythms. When circadian rhythms are out of balance, melatonin and serotonin levels can be affected.

People with S.A.D have been noted as having higher levels of melatonin, causing sleep disturbances and fatigue. Serotonin (the happy hormone) levels may decrease due to this lack of sleep, causing mood disturbances. So, what are some ways we can combat this? Consider the following natural remedies.

Natural Remedies to Beat the “Winter Blues” (or S.A.D) winter blues

  • Exercise Regularly – Exercise increases the brains feel-good chemicals, reducing feelings of depression. Studies have shown walking just 20-30 minutes can boost your mood and energy!
  • Get some Vitamin D – Taking a vitamin D supplement can help boost mood and immunity. A doctor or nutritionist can recommend a proper dose.
  • Sleep – Rest is vital to emotional health. Avoid excess sugar and caffeine to promote restful sleep. Try going to bed at the same time each night and waking up at the same time each morning.
  • Get Outside –Take advantage when the sun does decide to peek through during winter months. Bundle up and ask a friend to go on a short walk or hike. It can do wonders for your mood overall wellness!
  • Talk It Out – Discussing your feelings with a trained counselor can help you overcome feelings of sadness. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is recommended to promote positive thinking and behaviors. It can help you approach situations differently, turning your BLUE thoughts into TRUE thoughts.
  • Practice Self-Care – Spend time doing something you enjoy. Treat yourself to a massage. Finding ways to relax and be more mindful reduces stress, helping boost mood.
  • Healthy Eating – Comfort foods are easy to reach for when feeling sad. Sweets and excess carbs may produce good feelings short-term. Unfortunately, this can turn into a downward spiral, causing low mood and an imbalance in hormone levels. Leafy greens, protein, and healthy carbohydrates can help boost mood and energy, reducing symptoms of depression. Talking with a nutritionist can help guide you through a meal plan to fit with your personal lifestyle.

If you’re interested in further support with mood, diet, and lifestyle changes, Makin Wellness offers a holistic, integrative approach to therapy and nutritional counseling. Encompassing mind, body, and spirit, we give consideration to the whole person. Contact us today for a free 15-minute consultation ! winter blues

About Makin Wellness

Founded in 2017, Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy & coaching centers located in Downtown Pittsburgh and Downtown New Kensington. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again.  Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction, trauma, medical marijuana assited treatment and relationship counseling.  M

Laura Stewart, BA, CHN Makin Wellness

Laura Stewart, BA, CHN Makin Wellness

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