Avoid a winter ‘blues’

Bald trees, darkness and bleak weather: for many people these are ingredients for a dark mood. We give some tips to make you feel better and improve your mood.

A winter depression, better known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), differs from a ‘normal’ depression. During winter, people with SAD are irritable, tired while they sleep a lot, dejected and they gain weight. When spring comes they start to function normal again. A majority of people however, suffers from the winter blues, a less severe condition. Their mood varies during winter season from a little down to rather low-spirited.

American research showed that the more northern people live, the more often SAD occurs. In Florida about 1.4 percent of the population suffers from a winter dip, in Alaska this is 9.2 percent and in Lapland even 30 percent.

Extra light helps

Probably the large influence of light on our mood has something to do with our biorhythm. People who are sensitive to daylight may have a shifted biorhythm when the days become shorter. Now their sleeping and eating patterns become disordered and so their mood. Light therapy is at this moment THE treatment against SAD. Five sessions with a special light source could be enough to get rid of your gloom.

If you just have a winter blues, light can also help. There have been experiments with light therapy at the workplace. Anyhow it is a good idea to spend time outdoors or visit a solarium now and then. In Helsinki and London already light cafés have opened where, besides your daily dose of caffeine, you can have a portion of light.

Natural balance

St. John’s wort is one of the few alternative medicines that have scientifically approved medicinal properties. Against a mild depression this substance is just as effective as the current synthetic medication. St. John’s wort is sold over the counter at smartshops, pharmacies and drugstores.

Chocolate makes you happy. Cacao contains some kind of amphetamines that cause a temporarily stimulating effect. There even is a dietary supplement for this; Cacao Complex.

Tyrosine is an amino acid that increases your energy level through chemical processes. Hereby it may reduce stress. L-Tyrosine is a supplement that provides the required amount of tyrosine. It is also found in protein rich foods such as fish, nuts, sauerkraut, dairy products and cereals.

Tryptophan is, like tyrosine, an amino acid. The brains use it for the production of serotonine. Serotonine helps regulating your mood, so getting enough tryptophan is essential. This could be done by taking L-tryptofaan supplements, and eating cream quark, milk, flesh, turkey, fish, bananas, brown rice, lentils and sesame seed.

Nicotine increases the production of cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone, and it reduces the admission of tryptofaan. This, as we just have seen, plays an important role in the production of serotonine.

Sugars disturb the body’s natural balance. Sugar is converted to acetaldehyde in the bowels. Acetaldehyde binds itself to neurotransmitters, which creates ‘false neurotransmitters’. These fakers could cause depressive feelings.

Alcohol strengthens the mood you’re in; if you feel a bit dark, it is not wise to drink (much) alcohol.

Source: Psychologie Magazine