Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression often occurring during seasonal changes. Generally, symptoms begin to worsen during the winter months. Symptoms of winter depression are the same as those of other forms of depression.
Winter depression is a common mood disorder, caused by a lack of sunlight, which is characteristic of the cold months.
Without vitamin D, obtained naturally from sunlight, our body produces less serotonin, the good mood hormone - a deficiency which puts us at risk of mood changes and a feeling of sadness and apathy. Often, to compensate for the absence of well-being and happiness, given to us by natural exposure to the sun, we resort to increased use of alcohol, food that's essentially crap and rich in fats.
In order for our body to overcome the depressive state, we need to do physical exercises and eat a healthy diet.
Here is a list of the foods that can help:
- Linseed, hemp seeds and chia seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and a real mood booster. These seeds are crunchy, flavorful and tasty, perfect for salads or adding to bread, scones and biscuits.
- Pumpkin seeds - even baked pumpkin seeds improve mood because they are full of zinc and tryptophan - substances that act like natural remedies against anxiety. They are also effective in fighting phobias.
- Bitter chocolate - it's rich in polyphenols, potent antioxidants that contain phytochemicals, which can improve mood in turn. Bitter chocolate (as long as not eaten in excess) is a perfect natural remedy against winter depression.
- Oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes - all rich in folic acid and vitamins needed to produce serotonin. In addition to fresh orange juice, lemonade or homemade grapefruit juice, you can use the citrus fruits to make original salads. Flavor your salad with lemon juice or pour it over hummus - a tasty paste made from pureed chickpeas and sesame oil.
- Dark green leafy vegetables, which are rich in folic acid and magnesium, also have to do with serotonin production. Eating a delicious spinach salad is an excellent way to fight winter depression. Saute the spinach for a few min. in a pan with a little extra virgin olive oil and a clove of garlic, season with lemon juice, to facilitate the absorption of vitamin C, found in abundance in the spinach.
- Lentils - also rich in folic acid. Try a tasty lentil soup with hot spices to uplift your mood and warm the heart.
- Almonds - whether eaten as a snack or in salads, almonds are effective natural fighters of seasonal depression. They contain high amounts of magnesium and nutrients, which can affect the production of neurochemicals, in turn influencing mood. When combined with cinnamon, almonds have a low glycemic index. They'll satisfy your hunger and your nervousness will disappear, while at the same time maintaining a stable blood sugar level.
- Other nuts - rich in omega-3 fatty acids, they are good for your mood, heart and for improving cognitive function. Add them to risotto, sauces and salads, to produce healthy and delicious dishes.
- Oats - oatmeal supports the production of serotonin and helps you feel good.
- Mushrooms - rich in selenium. A deficiency of selenium in the body can cause depression.
- Cauliflower - rich in folic acid but low in calories, cauliflower is the ultimate mood fixer and waistline reducer of the cabbage family. Prepare it steamed, combined with pungent spices such as curry and a little extra virgin olive oil.