Winter depression and Chinese medicine

Okay, so we aren’t called ‘The Sunny Country’ for nothing. The idea of winter blues aka SAD Seasonal Affected Depression seems a little far fetched compared to the lands of eternal darkness far to our north. But a change in daylight can have a dramatic effect on our moods. I know from my own perspective melancholy can be something more present for me during the winter months.

So what is SAD then?

SAD is due to a change in seasons and can dramatically affect mood in some cases. It can result in difficulty waking up, oversleeping, reduced mental focus, increased craving for carbohydrates and resultant weight gain which all together can lead to a state of depression.

Ok so what can you do?

Light

It seems strange considering our light (no pun intended) version of winter. But lightboxes have been shown to improve SAD by 92% so it is definitely worth considering. A natural alternative to this would be to get outside everyday for 20-30 minutes and get some direct sunlight exposure. It’s something I crave during the winter months. I often go down to the river in my lunch break and spend some time sitting in the sun and this always makes me feel good.

Activity

It is far more inviting to stay in bed during the colder darker mornings. But physical activity is also know to help reduce and prevent depression. Now that doesn’t mean you have to run 20 km every day but some physical activity can certainly help. 20-30 minutes per day of light exercise has been seen to significantly affect mood.

Diet

Diet is an integral part to helping our mood and as mentioned we tend to crave more toward high fuel type foods during winter but they will further reduce your mood and increase your belt size. Caffeine can also seriously affect your moods in this case and is not your friend. Planning ahead is key here and will help prevent you falling to temptation. Have adequate fresh fruit and vegetables available in the fridge and when preparing meals perhaps make enough for a second meal. Try doing some extra cooking over the weekend to reduce the amount during the week. This reduces your cooking time and keeps spare meals up your sleeve. Steer clear of high carbohydrate foods such as sweets, bread, potato and white rice and make the bulk of your meals meat and vegetables including lots of greens.

Vitamin D3

Vitamin D3 is something that we tend to become more deficient in during the winter months. It is linked to depression so supplementation can definitely help. Other nutrients include folic acid, B12, B6, Calcium, Magnesium, Selenium and Zinc. Of course deficiencies in these are best addressed with carefully considered supplementation.

This winter, take control of your moods with careful dietary planning and regular outdoor activity. Contact us at Evolve to help you design an individual program to ensure your outlook this winter is shiny.

Additional info on depression:

http://depressionet.org.au/
http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/

Take care, stay warm

Yours in health
Jeff Shearer