Are you one of the millions of adults who feels more “down” than usual during the winter months? For some, it’s a minor mood shift. For others, it can be a full-blown season of sadness, overwhelm, anxious feelings, and depressed moods. Winter blues are a reality for many, but there is hope.
You can make small, healthy changes to support your mental and physical health through the winter months. These changes promote whole-body health, so why not give them a try.
Here’s how winter blues affect American adults and what changes you can make, starting today!
When trying to find the incidence of seasonal depressed moods in the United States, researchers have found that anywhere from 7.5% to 20.5% of respondents suffer from major and minor depressive moods in the autumn and winter (1)(2). In one large study, 50% of the cases were considered severe (3). Many of these adults also experience social anxiety, agoraphobia, and more mental health concerns. What’s more, the increase in seasonal sickness and virtual gatherings (rather than in person) have many feeling more lonely than ever.
However, small steps can go a long way to alleviating the
Have you ever noticed what the natural world does during the winter? It slows down. Some animals hibernate. Trees and plants go dormant. Our earth’s rotation results in dark skies for more and more hours of each day.
And humans? We tend to be sleepier, more depressed, and more apt to gain weight.
Rather than fight it, what if we gave our bodies what they need: more sleep? It’s well-documented that sleep deficiency leads to anxious and/or depressed moods, and weight gain (4). Perhaps, more sleep during the season in which the natural world slows down, would help.
In addition, adequate sleep absolutely supports overall health, less chronic disease, and improved longevity (5). Researchers in one recent study found that participants with existing high blood pressure or unhealthy blood sugars, who slept less than 6 hours per night, were 1.8 times more likely to die of heart disease or stroke.
Another study published in JAMA found an association with less REM percentage and an increased risk for death in middle-aged and older adults (6).
There’s little doubt that sleep is good for us. If you’re able, take steps to improve the quality of your sleep and get more during the winter.
Need help? Read: How to Get Better Sleep this Winter.
Two powerful nutrients, vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, support both physical health and mental health. In terms of mental health, they become crucial in winter months.
In fact, scientists have found that vitamin D status is often low with those who suffer from depressed moods in general, and seasonal depressed moods as well (7). Without supplementation, vitamin D levels drop during Winter months for most Americans because the tilt of the earth, and less daylight hours, reduces the amount of vitamin D our bodies synthesize. What’s more, vitamin D supports the immune system and can help us feel healthier, and therefore better, during winter months (8).
Omega-3 fats can also help.
In 2019, the “nutritional psychiatry” subcommittee of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research (ISNPR) invited the top authors who studied omega-3s for depressed moods and asked them to review all the literature possible in relation to it. After the review, the authors were in agreement to set the practice guideline of omega-3s for depressed moods. This consensus guideline was published online September 3 in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics (9).
The authors stated that clinicians should provide advice on omega-3s for depressed moods. They should encourage eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) omega-3s specifically and in combination with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Furthermore, clinicians should encourage high-quality natural and supplemental omega-3s daily, and that the therapy should be individualized for each patient (10).
If there’s one dietary habit that seems to fall away in the winter, it’s the consumption of fresh, vibrant greens and vegetables.
This can take a toll. Greens are filled with chlorophyll, and chlorophyll can promote detoxification and energy through the body by supporting the body’s own 6 detox systems (liver, kidneys, digestive tract, skin, lymph system, respiratory tract) (11, 12, 13). As your body detoxifies itself, you’ll feel more energized rather than down.
Luckily, there’s an easy way to get your greens and detox, even during the winter months: try a Daily Green Detox Smoothie.
Try it this winter and feel lighter, energized, and better!
You may be one of the many who experience minor, major, or even severe winter blue and seasonal depressed moods. Take our easy steps today to support your mental, physical, and emotional health during winter months! You can feel better, more energized, and healthier.