The weather is getting colder and the days seem shorter, and during this time of year, people start to experience what is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, or the “winter blues.” Decreased energy, increased appetite, a strong desire to sleep longer and weight gain are the main symptoms of winter depression, and they are not fun.
While it can seem like winter lasts forever, you can be hopeful in trying different remedies to combat this depressive mental state. We share tips for beating the winter blues naturally, and if you’re an older adult who is unsure about coping with these feelings, learn about the most popular winter activities for you to try.
One of the many ways to deal with winter depression is to make sure your body is getting plenty of vitamins and nutrients. Try implementing these three vitamins into your daily routine to stay on top of your physical and mental health.
1. Vitamin D
While vitamin D exists naturally in many of the foods and drinks we consume, it’s also something we absorb from the sun. When the sun sets earlier and it is too cold to go outside, our time with the sun is extremely limited.
If you think you may be vitamin D-deficient, ask your doctor about getting a blood test to check your levels. It’s always best to consult with your healthcare professional first before overloading on any vitamin. If it turns out you are lacking in vitamin D, try implementing these foods into your diet:
- Egg yolk
2. Vitamin B
Vitamin B, especially folic acid and B6, has been found to be helpful in times of mild depression. But if your depression seems uncontrollable or very extreme — consult with your doctor immediately.
If you’d like to start implementing more B vitamins into your diet naturally, try these foods:
- Orange juice
3. Fish Oil
Recent studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil can assist with emotional balance. Harvard Medical School shares that omega-3s easily travel through the brain cell membrane and can interact with mood molecules quickly. Fish oil also has anti-inflammatory actions that may help relieve the symptoms of depression.
Again, consult with your healthcare professional before beginning to heavily implement omega-3 fatty acids. The following foods are rich in omega-3s:
- Flax seeds
- Chia seeds
There are currently no medical tests that specifically diagnose Seasonal Affective Disorder, however here are some trends to be aware of and ask your doctor about:
- Periods of depression followed by periods without depression
- Symptoms of depression have been consistent at the same time of year over the course of at least two years
If you’re suffering from symptoms of winter depression, and are unsure about how to move forward, make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor will be able to consult with you on your diet, physical activity and any other health concerns that may be contributing to your depression.
Eating healthy and getting regular exercise are two ways to get started on a healthier path. Not only will you look better, but you’ll feel better, and that makes all the difference. It might seem difficult to get motivated during the cold months ahead, but taking the first step will be worth it.
To learn more and begin your journey to a healthier lifestyle, download our health screenings checklist .