Right right right guys, this isn’t all a doom and gloom blog post and don’t worry, I’m not all sad!! No, instead I wanted to talk to you about something called SAD, or the full name, ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’.
It’s also known as ‘winter depression’, because as the name literally says, it’s more apparent symptoms of depression in winter. Obviously, this is only one form of depression AND I’m am very aware that my tips won’t cure all. But when you have SAD, there are many environmental cues which could impact your mood and winter. Symptoms of SAD are like that of depression: low mood, tiredness, lethargy and poor sleep to name a few.
Ever noticed your mood dip and the nights get darker and the days get colder? Of course, never self diagnose and see you doctor if you’re struggling with your mental health, but if you’ve seen a recurring pattern, it’s a good idea to bring up SAD with a health professional. And even if you haven’t got SAD and feel a bit glum over the winter months, these tips may help you feel a little bit perkier!
So, how can you help and try to make the winter months as positive as possible?
Now light boxes aren’t for all and the evidence is limited, but some people swear by them so it’s worth a try if you’re struggling. It provides a light therapy, mimicking that of brighter days to hopefully improve your mood. The light box is thought to produce ‘melatonin’, which is thought to help encourage sleep. However, contradictory to this, some evidence could suggest that melatonin in fact increases risk of depression. So all round, sounds good, but confusing results. Some people swear by them, some people think they’re a waste of money, but whether is placebo affect or not, it’s worth a try!
I don’t have one at current but when I’m more financially stable, I’d love to try it out.
Eating Vitamin D Rich Foods
It’s thought that SAD may be associated with vitamin D levels. Studies have found that low vitamin D, particularly in the winter months is linked to depression, with observations being found between low blood levels and depression. Of course, these results are not direct correlations, but it’s a good place to start. Alongside this, vitamin D is SO important for bone and muscle health too, so making sure it’s not low is crucial for other functions too.
Now, let me explain that vitamin D is mostly absorbed from the sun, but in winter the sunlight UV levels are the incorrect length for us to absorb properly. You can get SOME dietary vitamin D, but levels won’t be anything as near to what you can get from the sun… but I mean, every little help. Dairy products are EXCELLENT but also fortified products too: cereals, milk and even… mushrooms! Vitamin D is fat soluble so make sure you have fat along with these (milk in cereal, butter on mushrooms).
Supplementation during the winter months is recommended for all by SACN! Supplements can be prescribed, HOWEVER they are so cheap to buy that there is no reason to waste the NHS’ money on such an accessible thing. Mine are from Boots, but you can also get them from pharmacists, supermarkets… even Aldi sell them!
I have an immunologist so I’m lucky enough to get bloods tested regularly, as a lack of vitamin D can impact other issues too. I have poor wound healing and hair loss which worsens when my vitamin D levels are low, so I’m recommended to take supplements all year round, rather than just the winter months.
or if you’re lucky enough…..
Go on Holiday!!!
I mean, I wish. If you’re lucky enough to be going on holiday this winter then one, I am soooo jealous but two, soak up that vitamin D. Remember to be responsible and safe in the sun, but catching a few rays will be your vitamin D levels.
Keep warm, keep happy and make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D this winter.
Emma is a Registered Dietitian and Registered Associate Nutritionist based in Cheshire, England. Emma works in community healthcare and writes freelance alongside her work: topics including Dietetic life, nutrition, mental health and lifestyle. Emma also writes and photographs recipes for the platform, as well as being the author of the ‘Mummy and Me’ series for SR Nutrition. Emma’s Food Stories is PR friendly brand.