Foods to Help Treat SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)
By Gretel H. Schueller, Contributing Writer forEatingWell
In some cases, the winter blues develop into Seasonal Affective Disorder (aka SAD), a form of depression that begins in late fall, peaks in January and February and usually fades by early spring. Common symptoms of SAD include extreme tiredness–the kind that makes you just want to curl up under the covers and sleep until spring–an intense craving for carbs (especially sweets), irritability, weight gain and the desire to avoid social situations. About 6 percent of the U.S. population falls into its grips annually, and about 15 percent more suffer from a milder version of the winter blues.
What Causes SAD?
One theory holds that the increased hours of darkness disrupt the brain chemicals that affect mood, such as serotonin and melatonin. Some experts believe reduced sunlight causes vitamin D deficiencies–but whether that translates into depression is not entirely clear. There have been conflicting studies on whether there’s a causal connection between low vitamin D levels and depression. So when it comes to a clear cause for SAD, the jury’s still out. While light therapy appears to be one of the most effective treatments for SAD, what you eat can also play a role in alleviating its symptoms. Of course, as with any medical issue, talk with your doctor about treatments if you’re dealing with any kind of depression.
Can Vitamin D Help?