Don’t Be Sad if You Have SAD By Erin Weisz inter is almost over and many people are tired of the colder, rainier weather, shorter and darker days. For them, winter is the time of the year to feel depressed and less energized. If you feel your spirit and energy falling away from you this time of the year, you may have a mild case of seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
According to familydoctor.org, up to 6 percent of people suffer from SAD (an appropriate acronym), which may not seem like many people, but up to 20 percent of people may experience a mild form of SAD in the winter months, and women are more susceptible than men. SAD is said to be caused by a combination of low light levels along with slight differences in brain chemistry and hormones. Researchers think that reduced sunlight during fall and winter leads to reduced production of serotonin in the brain. Since serotonin is a neurotransmitter that produces a calming affect, a lack of it leads to depression, fatigue, cravings of carbs, and weight gain. According to nutritionist, Ariane Hundt who lives in New York and works with many sufferers of SAD, it is important for those who become more depressed or fatigue in winter to eat foods that energize and produce a balanced blood sugar level, such as protein and vegetables paired at every meal. A meal like turkey breast and cauliflower will balance a person’s blood sugar for about 3-4 hours, whereas foods heavy in starches or sugars will only do so for 1-2 hours at most and will result in sugar cravings and fatigue. Foods that are warming are also great, such as healthy soups, stews, and steamed veggies. Hundt also recommends hot chocolate mixes with reduced 16
sugar and hot teas that can boost one’s mood, improve digestion and increase alertness. Hundt also warns that most people with SAD feel the need to sleep more and more, and says that the more sleep a person gets the more one can end up feeling fatigued. “One should experiment around with various hours of sleep and note levels of alertness,
According to Food Mood Expert, Nutritionist and author (The Antianxiety Food Solution: How the Foods You Eat Can Help You Calm Your Anxious Mind, Improve Your Mood, and End Cravings) Trudy Scott, who practices in Rancho Cordova, the SAD season is Sacramento begins in October and it is good to think about ways to combat SAD prior to the beginning of fall. Scott also stresses the importance of working out, and suggests winter outdoor sports such as skiing or snow-shoeing. “Light therapy, such as a fullspectrum lamp during the winter months may be effective for alleviating symptoms if you tend to get the winter blues or feel more anxious when it’s less sunny.” Scott advises. “It’s also possible that remedying any deficiency of vitamin D could improve seasonal anxiety and depression.”
hunger, energy throughout the day,” she says. “Exercise is a great way to boost sleep quality, as is a proper sleep routine.” Some people get depressed in the fall and winter because they love to work out outside and that option isn’t always available year round. Hundt recommends finding a good gym, a fun work out class, or watching challenging workout videos as an alternative to exercising outdoors. She also states that intensity of the workout is much more important than the duration. Hundt suggests getting in both cardio and strength training for an optimal workout that will leave one energized. Besides feeling energized, exercise may also raise serotonin levels.
Scott advises taking amino acids tryptophan and 5-HTP in supplement form because they can raise serotonin levels as well and also can stop evening cravings that are associated with low serotonin. Hundt recommends taking St. John’s Wort as opposed to antidepressants because it has been shown to improve depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, anorexia, insomnia, apathy and feelings of low self esteem without a lot of side effects. With more knowledge about SAD and some helpful advice, hopefully you can find a way to beat the fall and winter blues and maintain fierce attitude and energy throughout the fall and winters seasons. Ariane Hundt is a nutritionist and started the Brooklyn Bridge Boot Camp in New York City. The website is www.brooklynbridgebootcamp.com and phone number is (646) 354-0039. H&F