Natural Therapy for Wintertime Depression


Natural Remedies for Wintertime Depression


SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder affects one in five people.  This condition begins to occur as the days shorten and we experience less sunlight.  Those with SAD can experience varying degrees of depression from a vague feeling that something is not quite right, to intense feelings of sadness and despair, and even thoughts of suicide. Along with depression, SAD sufferers may also sleep more in winter. Feelings of fatigue and lethargy may  also be prominent.

Sunlight helps to regulate a multitude of hormones and neurotransmitters that control the body clock (circadian rhythm) and have strong effects on sleep, mood and behaviour. Two of these main players are called melatonin and serotonin.   When levels of these two hormones get low, it can result in the symptoms of SAD.  Here are some natural remedies I suggest to help with this debilitating disorder:-

  1. Vitamin D – This deficiency has long been associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder1 as well as more chronic depression2 as demonstrated in a double-blind randomized trial3 published in 2008.
  2. Full-Spectrum Light Therapy Lamp – According to a 2010 study,4 blue light plays a key role in your brain’s ability to process emotions.  Spending more time in blue light may help prevent and/or treat SAD and depression.  This is why it is also important to spend time in outdoor light as much as you can in the winter months.
  3. 5-HTP & Melatonin Supplementation – 5-HTP converts intoto serotonin in the body.  It is one of the main hormones discussed above which elevates mood and gives us that feel good feeling.  By supplementing with this during the winter months, it can help alleviate some of the symptoms you may be experiencing.
  4. Reduce Sugar & Processed Foods -I found a cool site called “Food for the Brain” that offers this simple explanation:

    Eating lots of sugar is going to give you sudden peaks and troughs in the amount of glucose in your blood; symptoms that this is going on include fatigue, irritability, dizziness, insomnia, excessive sweating (especially at night), poor concentration and forgetfulness, excessive thirst, depression and crying spells, digestive disturbances and blurred vision. Since the brain depends on an even supply of glucose it is no surprise to find that sugar has been implicated in aggressive behavior, anxiety, depression, and fatigue.

    Lots of refined sugar and refined carbohydrates (meaning white bread, pasta, rice and most processed foods,) is also linked with depression because these foods not only supply very little in the way of nutrients but they also use up the mood enhancing B vitamins; turning each teaspoon of sugar into energy needs B vitamins. In fact, a study of 3,456 middle-aged civil servants, published in British Journal of Psychiatry found that those who had a diet which contained a lot of processed foods had a 58% increased risk for depression, whereas those whose diet could be described as containing more whole foods had a 26% reduced risk for depression.

    Sugar also diverts the supply of another nutrient involved in mood – chromium. This mineral is vital for keeping your blood sugar level stable because insulin, which clears glucose from the blood, can’t work properly without it.

  5. Exercise – When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins connect with the receptors in your brain to produce positive and energized feelings.  Runners have often described this feeling as a “Runners high” or feeling “euphoric”.  Endrphins also reduce your perception of pain, which can include emotional pain, as well as physical.

Until next week….Be Healthy, Be Happy, Be Well.








1. Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging 1999

2 Clinical Rheumatology April 2007

3 Journal of Internal Medicine

4 Proc natl Acad Sci U S A 2010

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About Michelle

Michelle Firrisi is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Clinical Herbalist. She lived most of her life in the Island of Guernsey, in the Channel Islands, UK.

She now lives in beautiful British Columbia, Canada. Michelle also holds an Honours Degree in Bachelor of Science Podiatric Medicine and practices Reiki, Massage and Shamanism. Her main speciality is in the areas of Addiction, Anxiety, Depression and reversing Mood Disorders with targeted Amino Acid Therapy & Nutrition.

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Statements and opinions written on this website are based on experience and designed for educational purposes only. It should not be taken as professional medical advice. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Before changing your diet or with all medical conditions consult a qualified medical professional.