Changes in seasons can result in a type of depression called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Susceptible individuals suffer from SAD at the same time every year. Most commonly, the symptoms, such as mood swings, tiredness, lack of concentration, and feelings of hopelessness, start before and continue into winter. Most people do not seek help for SAD, considering them as a simple case of the “winter blues,” but most do not know that SAD can worsen and lead to social withdrawal, substance abuse, relationship and work problems, and suicidal thoughts.
While treatment options for SAD include psychiatric counseling and medications, some lifestyle changes, such as exercising and including certain food items in your diet throughout the year, will keep you motivated and prevent depression. The following types of food can help fight seasonal depression:
1) Fatty Fish
Fatty fishes, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, have numerous health benefits, boost your mood, and fight depression. Research has shown that people who consume more foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids are less likely to experience symptoms of depression. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in anchovies, salmon, herring, mackerel (also flaxseeds and walnuts), boost dopamine and serotonin production, which are feel-good hormones that activate the brain’s pleasure and reward systems.
2) Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
Leafy vegetables that are dark green, such as spinach, kale, broccoli, chard, arugula, etc., keep the brain sharp. They contain magnesium, folate, and vitamin B12, which all increase serotonin levels and boost your mood. A big bowl of salad every day is the best way of easing seasonal depression.
3) Dark Chocolate
We tend to eat chocolate or something sweet when we are sad or feel lonely. But, you should not eat a tub of chocolate ice cream or a bar of milk chocolate, as they are loaded with sugar. Eating a lot of sugar will temporarily elevate your mood, and you will feel depressed soon. Instead, eat 40 grams of dark chocolate every day. Consuming it for two months has been shown to reduce the levels of stress-causing hormones. Make sure the chocolate must contain at least 75 percent cocoa and is unsweetened. The high polyphenol content in dark chocolate, an antioxidant, is to thank for this effect on your mood.
Bananas are great when it comes to fighting SAD. They are loaded with tryptophan, a type of amino acid, which calms and relaxes you. They also contain complex carbohydrates, natural sugars, and potassium that keep your energy high. Its magnesium content improves sleep and reduces anxiety.
Berries, such as blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries, prevent the release of cortisol, the stress hormone that gets released by the adrenal gland. Cortisol is released during stressful situations. Including berries in your diet helps combat stress associated with depression.