Do You Have the Winter Blues?

Categories: Building Resilience, Well Nourished

By: Becca Curry, Keene State Dietetic Intern 2015

Now that our winter is almost over … how did it go for you? Aside from the typical cabin fever, did you feel sad and depressed for most of the winter? If so, you may have SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as the winter blues.

Winter blues is real.  And if you are one of the many individuals who finds your mood is influenced by the cold weather and shorter days you are not alone.

SAD is a form of depression that stems from environmental changes during the seasons. This can result from either the change to winter or summer, based on the individual.  Signs you may be suffering from winter-related SAD are: decreased energy levels, weight gain due to increased cravings for high carbohydrate and high-fat foods, altered sleep patterns and heavy sensation in limbs.

While this winter may be coming to an end soon, there are still measures you can take to help alleviate your lingering winter blues.  The following tips to help relieve your symptoms this year and also prevent them for next year:

  • Maintain a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables during the winter months. It can be easy to rely on comfort meals during the frigid winter days but making sure you have adequate amounts of fresh produce will nourish your body and improve your mood.
  • Vitamin D is the cream of the crop when it comes to nutrients for this time of year. The sun is the best source of vitamin D, which is often why a deficiency develops during the winter months. Since the sun is hidden behind snow clouds it is important to bump up your intake of Vitamin D-rich foods: Fatty fish, mushrooms grown in light, fortified milk, eggs (specifically the yolk), beef liver, soy milk and fortified grain products.
  • Whether you are an avid exerciser or just a beginner find a workout routine you can do in the winter. Exercising is a great mood booster because of the release of endorphins in the body. Exercising also helps increase energy levels and prevent weight gain that can occur as a symptom of SAD.

Sources:

Learn more: Seasonal Affective Disorder (http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/basics/risk-factors/con-20021047)