Scientists officially give credence to the phrase “winter blues” with a diagnosis of Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD, a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons. “It’s a well-defined clinical diagnosis that’s related to the shortening of daylight hours,” says Matthew Rudorfer a research psychiatrist and psychopharmacologist at the National Institute of Mental Health. It is estimated that four to six percent of people suffer from symptoms acute enough to justify a clinical diagnosis by a psychologist.
Another climatic weather-related health concern is vitamin D deficiency. Due to shorter days and less sunlight exposure, your body may not be soaking in its necessary daily dose which can lead to the deficiency. Vitamin D is a critical component notably related to bone strength and health. Linked with many other health concerns including osteoporosis, depression, heart disease and stroke, diabetes, parathyroid problems and immune function, vitamin D is also a major factor in the prevention of teeth and bone erosion and is necessary for optimum calcium absorption. Research has shown that sufficient levels of vitamin D regulate mood and feelings of contentment, especially for those with risk factors for SAD.
The change of season may also bring allergy and sinus-related problems, along with migraine headaches to those who are sensitive. Not just a springtime issue—many people suffer allergy symptoms due to debris from fallen leaves and sinus issues from the drastic change in temperature and barometric pressure—also resulting in sinus or migraine headaches.
Prepare for Climate Change
Defend yourself against darkening mood shifts and overeating indulgences that zap your energy and can lead you into a hibernation-like lifestyle with this natural plan of action.
- Rise and Shine: Wake up with Mother Nature. Raise the blinds and your spirits with an early morning walk to soak in the sun’s natural mood and vitamin D enhancer. Sunshine is the best medicine.
- Work it out. Exercise has been shown to be a natural mood elevator, stress reliever and immune booster. Any style and amount of exercise time ignites your brain’s chemicals (neurotransmitters, endorphins, and endocannabinoids) inducing a happier mood.
- Feed Your Head. Boost your mood and accelerate your energy level with antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, omega-3-rich foods, proteins and complex carbohydrates. Healthy, clean organic foods are key to staying as energized and symptom-free as possible, especially during this time of climate change.
- Take a D Supplement. Vitamin D, better known as the sunshine vitamin, supplements your body with a target concentration for those who are deficient and can't get enough sunlight.
- Get Real. Facetime IN PERSON with those who can restore your mental energy. Studies show spending time with your friends reduces stress, contributes to a sense of belonging and improves well-being.
While you’re bundled up against the brisk blowing pine scented wind, don’t forget to look up and enjoy your daily dose of vitamin sunshine this season!