Thursday, October 1, 2015

Ways to Help with Seasonal Depression

Alright, summer is over. Boo-hoo. Along with the beginning of fall comes cooler temps, falling leaves, and a lot less sun - especially here in Western New York. This affects a lot of people, and unfortunately, not in a good way. It is commonly referred to as Seasonal Depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D. - well isn't that a coincidence!). Unlike other types of depression, this type really only affects people during the Fall and Winter months. I actually know people already feeling this, which is what inspired this particular post, because I know they are not alone in this! Actually, it is thought to affect about 10% of the population!


So, what can be done? Without running to a doctor and getting put on a prescription, that is? Well, you will be happy to know, a few things you can start right now can actually help! Here we go...

1. Take a Vitamin D supplement. Doctors have found a link between people with Seasonal Depression and low levels of Vitamin D. And well, this only makes sense because we get Vitamin D from the sun's rays...so less sun is going to mean less natural Vitamin D. Vitamin D is involved with the brain's serotonin and dopamine production. So, lacking it means your brain is not making the proper amounts of these natural "feel-good" chemicals. Vitamin D also regulates blood levels of calcium and phosphorus, helping build and maintain strong bones and teeth. So, aside from mental health, our bodies need Vitamin D for other things too! So, take a supplement! You can find them at nearly any store! They are pretty cheap, and luckily for those who hate swallowing pills, every Vitamin D capsule I have ever taken has been very small in size! You can start of with one 1,000IU capsule per day. Try that for about a week or two, and see how you feel. You can also bump up to 5,000IU if you feel more is needed. A doctor can tell you if it is safe to take more than 5,000IU, in fact, they do offer a prescription strength (I believe this is like 10,000IU) but this would only be for severe deficiencies, and of course, only by your doctors recommendation. If you are really concerned about your Vitamin D level, a simple blood test can determine how deficient you are, and how much you should be taking to supplement your deficiency.

2. Try other supplements. Yep, more pills to take, but I would much rather take supplements and vitamins than harsh chemically manufactured prescription drugs. Right? SO, you can try these along with the Vitamin D, especially if after a couple weeks and you're still not seeing much improvement. Vitamin B12. This is essential to our overall health, and is not naturally made in the body. We get it from meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy. So, especially if you are a vegetarian or a vegan, you should already be taking this supplement!
Biotin. Yes, you have heard that Biotin is good for your hair, nails and skin.. but this combination of Vitamin B7 and Vitamin H, helps maintain nerve cells. So, Biotin can actually reduce stress by maintaining the proper of our nerves, and can also help with symptoms of depression.
Niacin. Another B Vitamin, also known as B3, has been shown to help with depression. Also, if there is history of dementia in your family, you may want to take this for brain health. It can be found in a variety of foods, such as dairy, meats, beans, fish and yeast.
Thiamin. Also known as Vitamin B1. Naturally found in dairy, grains and yeast, this has been found to help treat depression and irritability.

3. Get Rest. Proper sleep is key to feeling good any time of the year. I always joke that I want to hibernate all winter, and just wake me up in the Spring! Ahh, if only! I hate the cold and snow, aaaannddd, I live in New York! Something is wrong here! If I lived down South, I'd be much happier, but come Winter, I really do just feel like hibernating! I'm sure many of you feel the same way! Well, those animals that DO hibernate, have reasons for doing so! And so it might not be so practical for us to stay in our warm beds all Winter long (sadly!), but enough sleep is a must! This is when your body repairs itself and makes new cells, so obviously, it is needed for our overall health.

4. Get Moving. You need rest, but then you also need to move! Exercise and staying active is beneficial for feeling good. Even if you don't always feel like it, do something to get yourself moving. If it is a decent day, take a brisk walk. If it's way too cold for that, go to the mall and walk around. Go to the gym if you have a membership to one. Do some yoga, even if just in the comfort of your own home! You won't regret it!

5. Be Social. Unless you are a very reclusive or an introvert, you most likely enjoy the company of people. Being social, getting out and doing something with friends or people you share common interests with, will help ease the feelings of depression. It might be hard to give yourself that initial push to get out and go, but most likely, once you do, you will have a good time. And even if you are an introvert, I'm sure you have a few friends you like to get together with. No one says you need to go to parties or big major events. In fact, I much rather get together with a few close friends, have some wine and have some girl talk, watch a movie, or go out for a nice dinner somewhere. Nothing crazy, but you get out of the house and interact with people!



I really hope this will help those of you that suffer from this condition! Please leave any feedback if you have other tips you'd like to share on how you coupe with the cold and nearly sunless winter months, and feeling in the dumps! Keep in mind...it will be Spring and Summer again...hang in there!

14 comments:

  1. I fortunately don't suffer from this, but I know a few people who do. I'll be sure to pass along this info to them. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. You're very welcome...I hope it helps!

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  2. I always start taking Vitamin D in the Fall/Winter.

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    1. I actually take it year round because I always seem to be deficient lol...does it seem to help you?

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  3. I do suffer from depression and currently doing counseling and medication which is helping me alot! Very brave and honest of you to share this so other women can seek help without stigma!

    Ursula aka Blueridge Beauty

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    1. Thanks for your comment...I hope you are doing well!

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  4. These are great tips, I do feel down during the rainy season and I never thought about the connection with the lack of sun exposure! Need to get Vit D ASAP.

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    1. Yes, for sure give it a try! :) It can't hurt!

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  5. This is a great list! Rest and exercise can make such a difference!

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    1. Yes, it sure can! I say try all these natural methods before seeking chemical help.

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  6. This is a great post! I have found that even during the winter months, when I lived further north, to open the windows and blinds would help me.

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  7. This is a really great post filled with good tips! I think people don't realize the extent of seasonal depression! Your tips will certainly help

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  8. Exercise definitely helps me, as well as getting rest. I need to get a lot more than I'm getting now, though.

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  9. Thanks for the tips! Fall, while I love the season, can be a mood killer for some people. We have to learn how to press through any way. My favorite time is Spring, but any time is good to be among the living. Great post!

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