Do you experience a down turn in your mood once the days get shorter? You may experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Individuals who have SAD experience moderate to severe depression during the same season or months each year. Most commonly, it occurs in the fall/winter and remits in the spring/summer. 2-3% of Canadians experience SAD, and approximately 10% experience a milder form of the disorder at some point in their lives. Symptoms include low mood, depression, increased anxiety, insomnia, low energy, changes to appetite, feeling slowed down, difficulty concentrating, etc. While not everyone may experience symptoms as pervasive or intense enough to be classified as SAD, many of us can benefit from nourishing our minds and nervous system to support a more balanced mood.
- Recognize that each season has its own energy; we are now in late autumn and moving toward winter- a time of hibernation and rest. Give yourself permission to hunker down and enjoy a cozy evening at home. Snuggle up with warm blankets, soft lightening, your favourite tea and a good book, or play some board games with members of your household.
- Get out for a 20 minute walk to expose your retina to natural light. Even on overcast days, it is beneficial to go out for a walk. Dress warmly so you remain warm and dry. For those who cannot get outside, try using a “light box” (often called a “SAD” lamp).
- Check your vitamin D level, as individuals with SAD typically are deficient. Many individuals in Canada do not receive enough sun exposure to adequately produce optimal Vitamin D levels. If you are deficient, the dose you take should correlate with the degree of deficiency. A naturopathic doctor can work with you so that you can supplement correctly and safely.
- Ensure adequate protein intake. Neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and GABA affect your mood, and are dependent on amino acids- the building blocks of protein. In addition, protein will stabilize blood sugar, which can have a regulating effect on one’s mood. Healthy sources of protein can include fish, seafood, eggs, chicken, turkey, nuts, seeds, tempeh, quinoa, chickpeas, lentils etc. It is recommended by both the Canada Food Guide and Harvard Food Plate to have a source of protein at each meal, the serving should equal about ¼ of your total meal.
- Herbal teas such as holy basil, lemon balm, and saffron tea can have an uplifting effect on the mood and are caffeine free. Consider having a tea a few times a day.
If you are in need of further support for your mood, connect with Dr. Lisa and we can arrange an appointment. You can book online at drlisatnd.com, call me at 289-259-7527, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org . Follow me on IG @drlisatnd & @thehopeapproach to learn more about my practice and philosophy.