Do you get the winter blues? As the nights get longer and darkness last longer, many people get SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder. The symptoms of SAD are seasonal and similar to depression and may include:
- Weight gain and increased appetite
- Increased sleep and daytime sleepiness
- Less energy and ability to concentrate in the afternoon
- Loss of interest in work or other activities
- Slow, sluggish, lethargic movement
- Social withdrawal
- Unhappiness and irritability
Populations such as Icelandic and Japanese that eat a lot of fish did not get symptoms like populations that did not eat as much fish. Fish contain a high amount of Vitamin D and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) found in algae. DHA is a component of fish oil that is acceptable for vegetarians. DHA has also been shown to help with a variety of neurological dysfunctions. However, the combination of EPA and DHA or EPA alone has been shown to be more beneficial for depression.
Studies show Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is more common when vitamin D stores are typically low. Although light therapy with full spectrum light at 10,000 lux has been a standard treatment for decades, Vitamin D therapy has been shown to be more effective for treating depression. Other studies suggest that high doses of supplemental vitamin D may improve mild depressive symptoms. Other studies have suggested that low levels of vitamin D are associated with poor mood.
So if the long dark nights make you blue:
- Get sunlight for at least 30 minutes a day
- Use a full spectrum 10,000 lux light for 30 minutes a day
- Take adequate Vitamin D 3 (cholecalciferol)–The blood level of 25 OH Vitamin D is optimal when it is 60-80 ng/ml
- Take at least 1,000 mg of EPA/DHA fish oil (add up the EPA and DHA)
As with any general advice, consult your doctor to be certain this regimen is safe for you. It is possible to beat the winter blues.
Lorraine Maita, MD is an award winning physician, speaker and author of “Vibrance for Life: How to Live Younger and Healthier”. She is an expert in anti aging medicine, bioidentical hormone replacement, weight loss, nutrition, supplements and executive health. She has a private practice in Anti Aging Medicine in Short Hills, NJ. You can live younger and healthier; Click Here to Get my Tips on How to Live Younger and Healthier!