• Thu, Sep 1 2011

The End Of Summer Doesn’t Have To Mean The Start Of Seasonal Depression

Labor Day signals the unofficial end of summer, which is great news if you’re looking forward to finally opening your door to crisp mornings temps and colorful fall foliage. But along with the change of season brings less time at the pool or the beach which could seriously hamper the amount of sunshine we get. That’s a good thing for our skin, but not always beneficial for our mood.

Granted, depression can strike women at virtually any time of year and for many different reasons (sometimes there isn’t even a specific reason that can be pinpointed). Approximately 12 million women develop depression each year–twice as many as men, and one out of every eight of us will battle it during our lifetime. Depressing, huh?

If you find yourself feeling down, sad and/or tired with changes in your sleeping and eating habits, you should, of course, talk to your doctor about the possibility of depression. Along with some good medical advice, there are some natural remedies you can try to beat the blues:

Yoga. Calming the nervous system down is an important part of dealing with mental stress and imbalances. Yoga inversions like headstand, handstand and even ‘Legs Up the Wall’ can be beneficial for reversing the body’s blood flow, stimulate energy and help regulate chemical balances in the brain.

Exercise. We’ve all heard this one before, but a new study points to its depression-fighting abilities even more. Published in the recent issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, researchers found those patients with depression who added a daily exercise regimen on top of their current antidepressant experienced a 29.5% remission in the disease. This included some participants simply walking for leisurely for 10 minutes a day and others walking at a brisk pace for 30 minutes. The point is, exercise of any level helped and was considered a “valid treatment option”.

Diet. Foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, flax seeds and walnuts can have therapeutic benefits for depression. Carbohydrate-rich meals can increase serotonin levels in the brain, which can elevate our mood. And a recent post from Dr. Mark Hyman at the Huffington Post talks about the importance of eliminating foods that cause inflammation and allergies, which have been connected with mood disorders.

Vitamins. Low levels of Vitamin-D and B12 have been linked to depression. Even if you think you get enough sun or take an adequate multi-vitamin, you may not be getting enough. One study found up to 70% of Americans suffer Vitamin-D deficiencies.

Thyroid. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, get your thyroid checked. Hypothyroid (meaning it’s underactive) is a leading cause and carries many of the same symptoms like fatigue, low energy, weight gain and mood swings.

Whatever you do, don’t let anyone tell you to just “cheer up” or be more positive or write your feelings down. Often times too, there is a medical explanation that can be worth exploring before taking antidepressants–which some doctors now say don’t work anyway. And while this may make you feel like punching them, others say depression can actually be good for us!

Photo: Thinkstock

 

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  • Kim Foster, MD

    I second the Vitamin D recommendation, definitely. Studies are piling up about this, and SO many people are deficient. Including me! I had my level checked a few months ago and I was really low (surprise!)…guess I’m a bit obsessive over wearing sunblock. I take supplements now, needless to say.

    http://www.savvyhealthguide.com

  • Lee Horbachewski

    I agree, I third the Vitamin D recommendation. As a woman who deals with depression, I find taking Vitamin D extremely helpful. In the times where my depression is seasonally more active, which is usually May and October/November for me – I double up my dose of VitD as being proactive.

    I also take Vit B and Folic acid which helps tremendously.

    Yoga has been a fantastic addition to my mental and physical health. It helps bring peace, calm and time to connect with myself.

    Thank you for an informative article.
    Lee