Next to fibromyalgia, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is probably the most misunderstood. Personally, I know it’s real. I knew moving from sunny Arizona (98% sunshiny days) to Ohio (40%) would be a challenge. I need sunshine!!! In the past 10 days, I’ve seen my beloved sunshine only 4 days.
Since moving to Savannah isn’t an option, how can I combat this? As a Christian, my first thought is faith. God wouldn’t call us here without a plan to overcome this medical challenge of mine. My God supplies all my needs.
Being a nutritionist, my primary defense is a nutritional one. If you suffer from SAD as I do, I’d recommend these tips:
- Poor diet affects SAD. It’s a downward cycle. The brain and body feel lethargic – on these days I have no energy and would prefer to vegetate in front of the TV or read a good book. Therefore to create energy, my hypothalamus, (the little traffic cop in our brain) will crave simple, sugary carbohydrates which after an insulin crash a few hours later, is its worse choice!What the body needs is good, fibrous, complex carbohydrates such as beans, legumes, whole grains (not wheat) walnuts, fruits and vegetables with its B complex vitamins. Along with these, choose high protein foods, such as pork, turkey, peanuts, fish and chicken
- Consume a daily Vitamin D tablet with food. Remember Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin so it only works with other foods. One can’t simply pop a pill and expect it to work. This is also a case of “if some is good, more is NOT better.” Vitamin D can build up to dangerous levels in your system if taken to extreme.There are three ways to get your vitamin D, through sunshine and foods such as egg yolks, milk, salmon, sweet potatoes, tuna, vegetable oils, butter and supplements.
- I’d recommend adding hot, spicy selections to your weekly menu: horseradish, hot sauce, tabasco, wasabi, chili peppers, red pepper flakes and anything which stimulates brain circulation, produces a happier you.
- Garlic, leeks, onions increase serotonin in the brain, which is the “feel good” neurotransmitter which plays a huge role in your mood, appetite and sleep patterns.
- Increase omega 3 fatty acid intake through fish oils, milled flaxseed or primrose oils. By increasing the right type of fat, it keeps our moods and behaviors positive and reinforces our brain’s memory which is less frustrating for everyone.
- Tyrosine found in spinach, beans, legumes, bananas, pumpkin seeds, avocados is a great good mood stimulator.
The next defenses are social situations:
- Don’t hibernate! Get out of the house, call, Facebook or email friends to stay in touch. Laughter really is the best medicine.
- Apply music therapy. Happy music creates a happier, positive mood.
- Exercise improves mood! Dance to that music or get out and walk, weather permitting. Fresh air improves the mood as well.
- Consider light therapy. Natural sunlight is balanced light and allows us to maintain optimum health. Consult with your doctor to see if light therapy would be covered under your health insurance.
Some struggle in a world of darkness today. But someday, the Son will be our Ultimate Light Therapy. He contains all the therapy we need for abundant life and health! Let your personal life shine!
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord shines over you. For look, darkness covers the earth and total darkness the people. But the Lord will shine over you, and his glory will appear over you.” (Isaiah 60:1-2)