Beat The Winter Blues


The ‘winter blues’ that we sometimes feel in the cold, dark months is common and is often referred to as Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD).  Sufferers tend to feel depressed, lethargic, irritable and often overeat to compensate their low mood. The problem stems from the lack of sunlight and the effect on brain chemistry.

Going on holiday to the sunshine is indeed a good cure but may not be a practical solution. Try to make the most of any little bit of sunshine that does come your way.  If the sun is out, then take a minute away from your desk to go for a quick walk.  Even 10 minutes of sunlight on your face and hands can make a difference to your mood.

Vitamin D deficiency is a contributing factor to depression, particularly seasonal affective disorder (winter depression), which occurs during the time of the year when vitamin D levels are the lowest. We usually obtain our vitamin D naturally from sunlight via the skin so during winter we may become deficient. We can supplement through our diet by increasing vitamin D rich foods such fish, (mainly salmon, sardines, tuna, herring and mackerel (canned is fine)), eggs and fortified milk. You can also boost your vitamin D levels with a good quality supplement such as Nutri’s vitamin D3 drops (available at reCentre).

Vitamin D is also fabulous for strengthening the immune system, so as well as keeping you happy, it can also keep away those winter bugs!

Omega 3 fatty acids which are found in fish, walnuts and flaxseeds are essential for healthy brain function. Studies have shown that supplementation with at least 1-2g of fish oil per day can improve mood and fight depression. The EPA and DHA found in Omega 3 fatty acids increase serotonin levels in the brain, which improves mood and results in an overall sense of well-being. It is interesting that those countries which consume diets high in fish have the lowest incidence of depression. If you would rather not eat fish every day, take a good supplement.

Aromatherapy oils can lift your mood as well as fragrance your home, office and car. Good blends for fighting depression and the winter blues are Grapefruit, Cypress, Rosemary, Peppermint, Clary sage and Eucalyptus.

Written by Dr Caroline Longmore, GP of Complementary Health and Naturopath