Feeling S.A.D?

This time of year a lot of people tend to be more SAD. I’m talking Seasonal Affective Disorder, aka seasonal depression. I’m guilty of having this problem every year or two, and I find it gets to me the most in the early “spring” (probably because this is Utah and spring doesn’t happen until the end of May)!

Symptoms typically include excess sleepiness, lethargy, increased appetite, social withdrawal, and feelings of unhappiness. To learn more specifics check this out. For this little blurb, I would like to suggest NATURAL ways to help you during this dreary time of year. (By natural I mean your doctor probably won’t tell you these tips, he will be too busy trying to prescribe you the happy pill).

Step One:

Start by eating a diet of whole-rather than processed-foods that doesn’t include a lot of sugar or starches. Consider supplementing or incorporating foods rich in b vitamins. Food sources include: green leafy vegetables, brown rice and whole grains, lecithin, brewers yeast, meats and liver, oats, bananas, avocados, legumes, and brazil nuts – to name a few.

Get fishy. Increase your fish intake to at least two servings per week and consider supplementing with fish oil capsules. Fish oils are high in EPA/DHA which promote increased neurotransmitter production and brain development. Anything that supports a healthy brain is going to support a healthy mood.

Step Two:

If improving your diet doesn’t make much of a difference after a couple weeks consider adding this supplement to your routine:

  • 5-HTP: This is a good one. I am personally not a huge supplement person, but I did try taking this for a hot minute and it helped me during times when I had insomnia and anxiety. Some of you medical or biology geniuses out there might know that our body can convert the amino acid tryptophan to serotonin (serotonin is the neurotransmitter involved specifically with our moods). What’s tricky though, is that trpytophan is used for a lot of functions in our body so by increasing our meat and protein intake, we can’t always be sure that the individual tryptophan amino acids will be used to convert to serotonin. The good news is 5-HTP is a by product of tryptophan that is used specifically for the serotonin producing pathway. Start with 50 mg a day (I would say at night because it can cause sleepiness) and build up to 100 mg if needed. This supplement only needs to be taken temporarily and therefore is perfect for SAD.

Step Three:

Increase your physical activity. Even if it is just going outside for a 15-20 minute walk. I guess we have been lucky here in Utah that the winter has been so mild; I haven’t had to pull out my snow boots once! So grab a scarf and get outside! Remember how physical activity increases endorphins in our bodies? I mean who doesn’t love that feel good high you get after a good work out!? We like to move it move it!

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