Some people experience mood changes during the winter months when there is less natural sunlight. This recurrent winter depression is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder. Experts believe that SAD is related to the complex interplay of brain neurotransmitters in the pineal gland, and diminishing sunlight exposure. Research has shown treating SAD, through a combination of phototherapy, regular exercise and proper nutrition is an effective and safe way to maintain balanced, brain chemistry.
Phototherapy or exposure to artificial light elevates mood. Light therapy is also used as adjunct therapy for other types of depression and sleep disorders. Regular physical activity has long been correlated with improvement in depression and anxiety. In fact, exercise and exposure to natural sunlight within two hours of waking has been proven beneficial. Finally, the consumption of complex carbohydrates, such as those found in whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables provide a long-lasting flow of serotonin to the brain and help elevate mood. Adding, omega 3 fatty acids can assist with mood as well. These are found in fish, walnuts, and chia seeds. Saffron, a spice known for its positive effect on mood can be a great addition to broths, soups, curries, warm water or milk.
Working with your doctor on diet and exercise, utilizing light therapy, and optimizing vitamin D levels can help elevate your mood through the winter.