Winter depression is common and generally peaks during the month of February. With the colder days, less sunshine, shorter day cycles, the winter blues become a serious issue. Season Defective Disorder (SAD) is a more serious type of depression which includes extreme energy lag, peak cravings for carbohydrates, mood swings, and the desire to hibernate away from people.
Every year in the United States, six percent (6 %) of the population deal with SAD. Another fifteen percent (15%) suffer from a milder version of depression. Both forms of depression prevent people from functioning at their best.
What Causes Seasonal Defective Disorder?
Many theories exist concerning this medical disorder. One theory stands on the increased number of hours without light disrupt the brain’s chemical balance which affects mood. Some consider vitamin D deficiencies also play a vital role. Clinical studies provide “evidence” in a variety of ways, including those conflicting.
Can Adding Vitamin D Help?
Adding vitamin D may, or may not, help the individual who suffers from depression. Clinical trials have mixed end results when studying depression and vitamin supplementation. Supplementing the diet with vitamin D is possibly a low-cost option to ease the symptoms of depression. Fatty fish contains this specific vitamin as well as fortified milk and yolks of the egg.
According to the University of Toronto, individuals who added vitamin D to the diet over the course of the year seen improvements in depression levels. The Institute of Medicine recommends each individual receive 600 IUs daily. This is for anyone from the age of one to the age of seventy. Always check with your physician regarding dietary supplements.
Do Omega 3 Fats Help with SAD?
Recent studies have linked low levels of omega 3 fatty acids to depression levels, more specifically Seasonal Defective Disorder. One study published in Nature Neuroscience provided evidence in brain function changes with lower levels of omega-3. Changes were seen in the area of the brain affecting mood.
Additional studies show proper levels of omega 3 encourage the body to create correct levels of dopamine and serotonin. Low levels of serotonin link with symptoms of depression, suicide, and aggression. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the brain which relates to pleasure and reward.
Results seen in a variety of studies suggest SAD patients should increase omega 3 fatty acids in the diet. Reading published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry which included 432 people found omega 3 supplementation provided highly favorable results. The results were as highly effective as anti-depressant therapy.
Sources of omega-3 fats include adding oily, fatty fish to the diet such as herring, sardines, mackerel, and salmon. The best choices for omega-3 contain the most potent form of EPA and DHA. Flaxseed is a common option.
How to Choose Carbs Carefully?
Individuals suffering from Seasonal Defective Disorder (SAD) tend to crave carbs due to lower levels of serotonin. Choosing carbs wisely are very important in the fight against the depression. Some carbohydrates can add to the symptoms of downheartedness within the body. Choosing carbs with very little fat and low protein is recommended. Staying away from simple carbs such as sweets, white bread, and so forth is highly recommended. These foods spike blood sugar levels within the body and can create a yo-yo effect with up/down feelings.
Optimal food choices for carefully chosen carbs include popcorn, biscotti (low fat), pretzels, non-sugared shredded wheat, lentils, and brown rice. The evening meal should be focused on as the main carb-containing meal of the day. It is during this time of the day, most SAD symptoms progress.