How To Fight (S.A.D.) Winter Blues
As reported by Dr. Frank Lipman for NaturalNews (2/11): Got the blues? Feeling S.A.D.?
It has been a brutal winter here in the Northeast, and I seem to have seen more
patients this year suffering with a touch of the winter blues, also known as
SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Symptoms may include a tendency to
oversleep, difficulty waking up in the morning, carbohydrate craving, getting
easily exhausted, withdrawal from social activities, friends and family, and
obviously feeling blue. While some battle these symptoms chemically with
prescription pills or alcohol, I encourage my patients to chase the blues away
with healthier options.
Try a combination of these side-effect-free ways to help beat the winter blues:
• Let There Be Light
For us light-deprived northern hemispherians, I recommend installing
full-spectrum light bulbs at home, to help mimic the benefits of sunshine.
Beaming high-quality full-spectrum light indoors is essential when adequate
natural sunlight is in short supply. The full-spectrum bulb benefits? Better
sleep, improved concentration, mental clarity and mood, plus a tougher immune
system - so let the faux sun shine in!
• Take A Sun Bath
No matter where you live or how deep the snow, it's important to get outside for
a dose of natural morning light. A 10-minute walk in the morning light will
help re-set your body-clock and boost mood. No time in the a.m.? Then try a
quick lunchtime lap around the block or office park. Another option: bundle up,
find a bench in the sun and take a few moments to catch some nourishing rays.
• Get Off The Couch
Exercise increases serotonin levels, which in turn helps banish the blues.
Exercise outside and you'll get an even greater boost - studies have shown that
one-hour of outdoor exercise had the same benefits as 2.5 hours of light
• Restore Yourself
Spend 5-10 minutes twice a day in Reclining Open Chest Pose. This particular
Restorative Yoga pose helps to elevate your mood and energize you when you are
tired. When we support the back in this way and open the chest, we tend to feel
more emotionally buoyant and physically energized.
• Supplement Your Happiness
Eating healthfully, avoiding sugar, sleep-inducing simple carbs and comfort
foods will help keep the blues at bay, but in winter, the addition of a few
supplements can also help keep spirits high. In addition to the essential
supplements I think everybody should take year round, my favorite blues-chasers
Vitamin D - Most people in the northern hemisphere - even those without the
blues - don't get enough Vitamin D. As there's growing evidence to suggest a
link between SAD and low Vitamin D levels, I encourage patients to take at
least 2,000 to 5,000 IU/day through the winter to keep brain chemistry and
neurotransmitter action at optimal levels.
Fish oils and other Omega 3s - Fish oils and omega 3's have a role in the synthesis of serotonin, and are
thought to elevate mood and decrease depression. My advice to patients?
Increase the dose if the blues start to get the upper hand.
Melatonin - For some, but not all SAD sufferers, especially people 40 years and
older, 1-2mg of melatonin at bedtime can be helpful in relieving symptoms.
Melatonin levels tend to drop as we age.
5-HTP - As it is the precursor in the biosynthesis of mood-boosting serotonin, I
often recommend 200-400mg at bedtime.
Magnesium - Insufficient levels of magnesium can compound SAD symptoms by
inhibiting the conversion of tryptophan to 5-HTP, which can decrease the
production of mood-stabilizing serotonin and melatonin. To boost magnesium
levels in winter, I recommend taking 400-600mg at bedtime. I tend to use
Magnesium Glycinate as it does not loosen the stools as much as the other
• Sunshine On Your Desktop
Patients with tougher cases of winter blues, may benefit from light therapy
sessions, which can be done easily at home, in the office or on the road, with
specialized light boxes, lamps and even wearable visors. A range of high-power
light therapy devices are available.
• You Are Not A Bear
So fight the urge to hibernate. After work, step away from the computer, and
make the effort to interact face-to-face with loved ones, weather be dammed.
Get tickets to a show, take a class, book nights out with friends, whatever it
takes, just keep giving yourself spirit-boosting, off-line group activities to
keep you engaged with your world.
Dr. Frank Lipman is an internationally recognized expert in the field of
integrative medicine. He is the founder and director of the Eleven Eleven
Wellness Center in New York City, where for over 20 years his personal brand of
healing has helped thousands of people reclaim their vitality and recover their
zest for life. Focused on sustainable wellness &endash; instead of quick fixes &endash; he offers patients a customized blend of Western medicine with
acupuncture, nutritional counseling, vitamins and herbs, relaxation techniques,
physical therapy and bodywork. In 2010 he developed Eleven Eleven Wellness by
Dr. Frank Lipman, a line of leading-edge supplements and health programs. He is
the author of Revive: Stop Feeling Spent and Start Living Again and Total
Renewal: 7 Key Steps to Resilience, Vitality and Long-Term Health.