By JENNIFER HALLGREN
It’s wintertime. It’s dark, cold, and…cold. It’s hard to get out of bed, traumatic when you have to go warm up your car, and impossible to find any kind of hope for spring.
Upon the winter solstice, you find yourself becoming Scrooge and screaming, “WHYYYY!?!” If you wouldn’t call the winter “the most wonderful time of the year” then you could have SAD. It’s possible you may just love the summer and springtime and have a general hate for the cold and winter, but for those who are irritable and feeling slow, you could have a form of depression that rears its ugly head during the winter season.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) comes once a year (if it happens all year, you are probably depressed and should go talk to someone, all joking aside) and mostly affects women. According to the Mayo Clinic, SAD occurs in late fall and extends throughout the winter due to changes in our circadian rhythm because of the decrease in sunlight. A decrease in sunlight causes a decrease in our chances of obtaining Vitamin D. Clinical psychiatrist Dale Archer, M.D. explains, “The lower the Vitamin D level, the greater the chance of depression.”
So what can we do to mimic the sun and conjure up Vitamin D? For those with extreme cases you can buy a SAD lamp (energy lamp) for $40-$200 on Amazon.com. It’s simply placed next to you while you are at work, driving, or sleeping. If that is a little out of your price range, over the counter supplements can be taken to help alleviate some of the symptoms. Vitamin D and melatonin supplements can help elevate your mood and regulate your internal clock when taken correctly.
Unfortunately, the best defense and treatment for SAD is the dreaded and tormenting change in diet with the horrific addition of exercise. If you are already knee-deep in SAD, you already don’t have the motivation to move let alone go for a walk so how is this expected to even happen?
Most of the vitamins you need are found in foods you already eat. Vitamin D is found in milk, cheese, fish, and cereal (so go to town on those Lucky Charms). Cherries and walnuts top the list for most melatonin content, but at the very bottom (and still making the list) red wine makes its debut. Here’s a perfect excuse to stock up on wine!
As for exercise, choose your battle. It’s cold, so the old adage to park far away and walk to wherever you are going doesn’t pertain. Instead, go inside and take the longest route to class or your destination. Take the stairs and then go down and take them again. At home, put your wine or cereal on the tallest shelf and do squats up and down a set number of times using the wine and cereal as your reward. Your body is just looking for a little help to get the blood flowing and heart pumping. ou’ll be surprised how much better you feel. Exercise produces endorphins (feel good chemicals) that help alleviate symptoms of SAD. Once you start moving, you’ll see how easy it is.
The only true way to beat SAD is to marry a cabana boy and move to Florida (just kidding). If you are mindful of your body and the options available to sustain a healthy mindset, you can make it through the winter. Once again, if these symptoms persist throughout the year there is no shame in talking to someone about it.