Cindy has been a Substance Abuse/Mental Health Counselor since 2012 and believes that a healthy mind is a happy mind.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and why do I get it?
S.A.D. occurs when your depression worsens in some seasons more than others. For most, symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months. This is related to the levels of serotonin in your body.
Serotonin levels naturally increase in the morning upon exposure to light, so you feel more awake, and decreases in the evening as it becomes darker, so you can unwind and get a good night's sleep.
As the days become shorter and less time is spent outside in the sun, the body produces less serotonin than normal. This slowly begins sapping your energy and making you feel sad and listless.
What Roll Does Sunlight Play?
It's well-known that sunlight promotes feelings of well-being by increasing the production of Serotonin. But did you know that Vitamin D plays an important part
Serotonin is considered a natural mood stabilizer. This chemical helps reduce depression, regulate anxiety and promotes healthy sleeping, eating, and digesting.
It is created naturally, with the help of an essential amino acid called 'tryptophan', which can be found in foods such as bananas, pineapples, plums, turkey, and milk.
Sunlight is another way to increase serotonin production.
Vitamin D plays a big role in your mood, too. However, this vitamin is NOT produced naturally in the body so we must look for other ways to get this vitamin into our systems to avoid dangerous deficiencies. It's not found in great quantities in many foods, but you can get small amounts of it from fortified milk, fortified cereal, and fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines.
The best way to get the Vitamin D you need is by exposure to sunlight. 1/2 half-hour 3 times weekly or 15 minutes 5-6 times weekly is sufficient. Wearing long pants/sleeves and/or sunscreen will limit the amount of UVB rays your body absorbs.
Nutrition Needs the Sun
⦁ Spend more time outdoors. The sun helps boost serotonin levels (which controls feelings of well-being) in your brain.
⦁ Eat lots of Nutrient/Vitamin-rich foods. Nutrition can have an enormous effect on your mood. We are probably deficiant in a number of nutrients, due to addiction. The faster we bring our bodies up to par, the faster we feel better and the better equipped we are to ease withdrawals and fight cravings.
You especially want to eat foods rich in (or take supplements of) these nutrients:
⦁ B Vitamins-and especially B6 & B12, will help your body convert the foods you eat into energy.
⦁ Theanine is an amino acid found in green and black tea, or purchased as a pure supplement.
⦁ Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that the body cannot produce itself, but are essential in overcoming addiction. Research shows increased anxiety is one of the primary reasons why substance abusers and alcoholics tend to relapse. One study found that giving omega-3 fatty acids to substance abusers significantly reduced their anxiety.
⦁N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) is a precursor to the amino acid Cysteine. While NAC can’t be found in natural foods, Cysteine can. Turkey, legumes, dairy products, seeds, and chicken are all rich in cysteine. In supplement form, it can help treat several mental illnesses, reduce addiction cravings during withdrawal (including a significant reduction in withdrawal symptoms and cravings for cocaine after just 2 days), and NAC helps prevent side effects from drug use.
⦁ SAM-e (pronounced "Sammy"), SAM-e is short for S-adenosyl-L-methionine. It's a chemical that's found naturally in the human body and is believed to increase levels of neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. SAM-e is a natural compound involved in producing hormones and neurotransmitters. It offers some powerful benefits for people struggling with depression after quitting alcohol or drugs. Adequate levels of SAM-e are required for the production of Serotonin, Dopamine, Norepinephrine.
⦁ Folic Acid, also called folate, is a B vitamin that is often deficient in people who are depressed. Folate is found in green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, fruit, beans, and fortified grains. It's one of the most common vitamin deficiencies because of poor diet.
Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on October 09, 2021: