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Feeling a bit Glum? It may well be the Winter Blues

Many people really “feel” the cold in winter. Commonly they make comments like: “It’s been a while since it’s been this cold” and “It’s too cold to go out”.

Others seem to be feeling the effects more strongly and feel a bit down as well. If you are one of them and feel less than yourself each day, especially on these cold winter mornings, you may be suffering from the “Winter Blues” or Seasonal Affective Disorder,  “SAD”.

The “Winter Blues” or Seasonal Affective Disorder “SAD” is a well-documented phenomenon which affects thousands of people each winter. Winter has the second highest reported cases of depression and suicide, second only to Christmas.

Symptoms of SAD include depression, decreased motivation, tearfulness or being easily saddened, and apathetic.   Other changes in behaviour include cravings for carbohydrate-rich food (comfort foods) such as bread, pasta, potato etc, weight gain, withdrawal from social groups, isolation, constipation or other digestive symptoms.

Serotonin is one of the neurotransmitters for the brain.  It leaves us feeling calm, happy and enthusiastic for life.  Sunlight triggers the brain to release serotonin.  So as the days shorten and we are exposed to less sunlight, the brain releases less serotonin leaving us apathetic and de-motivated.  Coupled with decreased exercise and poor eating habits during the winter months, life is all a bit dark and gloomy.

Carbohydrate cravings can worsen throughout this time of the year due to the decreased serotonin production.  Carbohydrate foods lead to a surge in serotonin leaving us feeling calmer. It also increases blood sugar giving us more energy.  However, both of these increases are short-lived and lead to a sudden decrease in serotonin and blood sugar. We then find ourselves feeling tired and sleepy, craving even more sugar. The subsequent weight gain is enough to depress anyone!

The good news is there is a lot which can be done to treat SAD or better still prevent if from occurring.

Some simple adjustments to your lifestyle can go a long way in treating/preventing SAD.

  1. Regular Exercise - Your Wellness Centre NaturopathyExposing yourself to full sunlight for 10 – 20 minutes each day (silly advice you may be thinking…there IS no sun and this is making me glum!) Hmm look out for the occasional peep of the sun through the clouds!
  2. Regular exercise for 30 – 40 minutes, four to five times per week encourages the release of your bodies endorphins and lifts your mood and energy levels.
  3. A diet including low glycemic vegetables and fruits as well as a lean protein with each meal.  This will help stabilize blood sugar levels and feed the body the required amino acids for serotonin production.
  4. Therapeutic dosages of specific nutritional supplements may also be required to quickly increase serotonin levels.

If each Winter you gain a few extra kilos, have decreased motivation and then when Spring arrives and the sun begins to shine you feel so much happier and more energized, you may be suffering from  Seasonal Affective Disorder unnecessarily.

For more information and to discuss further treatment options contact us at:

health@yourwellnesscentre.com.au  or Ring 03 9879 9596 so that we can promptly help you!

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