It’s not uncommon that the long winter days and the cold damp weather can leave you feeling stuck at home and with the mopes. But don’t quite grab for that antidepressant just yet. There are many natural solutions that will put some pep in your step. After being in clinical practice for over 15 years and treating hundreds of patients with depression, I have found that there are an incredible amount of natural solutions when you are feeling down. Here are a few:
- Get Active: Exercise releases different chemicals, which floods the brain with positivity. These neurohormones can help fight stress, anxiety, and depression. Even if it’s hard to get going, once you do, you will feel great. A Duke University study found that a brisk 30 minute walk, three times per week was just as effective as one of the most common antidepressant medications at relieving depression.*
- Get Sleep: Going to sleep earlier and sleeping a little later is normal in winter. If you have difficulty sleeping, which many with depression may have, you should follow a good sleep routine. Also, the use of certain herbs like Hemp Oil or Melatonin is safe and effective at helping your slumber. Proper rest gives you more energy throughout the day for your activities.*
- Proper Diet: This would include avoiding stimulants like caffeine and sugar, decrease depressants like alcohol (and sugar) and increasing Omega 3 fatty acids from fish, whole foods in the form of vegetables and fruits as well as lean protein. Not only will you feel clean and alive but this can also help your immune system to boot.*
- Optimize vitamin D levels: In the colder areas of the world, optimizing Vitamin D from sunlight is hard if not impossible to do during the winter. Ideally, your doctor can run a OH-25 Vit D blood test to see how much supplementation you need. But it is very common to see this deficiency above 60* latitude (that’s us in the Northeast). You can safely take a small amount and, when the weather warms, expose yourself to the sunlight for about 15 minutes until you get slightly pink but not burned. Findings from the Mayo Clinic demonstrate that suboptimal Vitamin D levels may be linked to depression.
- Get some Acupuncture: A study out of University of York in the UK found that receiving acupuncture treatments reduced depression equal to that of counseling. Additionally, at Mass General Hospital, they found acupuncture was effective in the treatment of major depression. Not only will you feel great but acupuncture can treat many other conditions that may make you feel crummy such as pain, hormonal imbalances, digestive issues and more.
So, if you are feeling the blues, remember, it’s only temporary and can be solved naturally. There is no one treatment for everyone so I suggest that you consult a healthcare provider to help you figure out which treatment strategy is best for you.
Dr. Ken Hoffman, DACM, L.Ac.
Medical Director, SOPHIA Natural Health Center
*The effectiveness of diagnosis and treatment vary by patient and condition. Sophia Natural Health Center does not guarantee certain results.