6 Foods That Combat Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder, sometimes referred to as SAD, seasonal depression or winter depression, is a kind of depression that takes place during the same season each year. Like common strains of depression, symptoms of the disorder can range from grumpy or irritable mood changes to weight gain and lack of focus, among others.

The good news is that there are many ways to ward  off painful symptoms of this depression and a few include the foods you eat. There are many bright, uplifting foods that fight SAD with unique vitamins and nutrients. Here are a few to try if you find yourself experiencing seasonal depression:

  1. Fish: Certain fatty fish like salmon, tuna and rainbow trout are all loaded with Vitamin D, which has shown to decrease signs of sadness among depressed individuals.
  2. Carbo-loaded snacks: Carbohydrates increase serotonin, a feel-good chemical, flow to the brain which minimizes the sadness felt from seasonal depression. Somewhat-healthy carbs like popcorn, pretzels and shredded wheat squares are great snacks to munch on if you’re feeling down.
  3. Nuts and seeds: The omega-3 fatty acids found in foods like walnuts and flax seeds help act as mood lifters. In one study, The University of Pittsburgh found that omega-3 fatty acids helped combat moderate or mild symptoms of depression.
  4. Berries: Fruity berries like blueberries, strawberries and raspberries can slow the release of cortisol, a hormone that can affect memories and emotional response in the brain. By managing cortisol levels, you will likely be more in control of your emotions and less sad, by choice. 
  5. Shellfish and Mollusks: Low levels of Vitamin B12 in the blood are said to be associated with depression. Luckily seafood like oysters, clams and crab are all packed with the valuable vitamin. 
  6. Dark chocolate: Research shows that dark chocolate that is at least 70 percent cocoa, increases the body’s production of phenylalanine. Phenylalanine increases dopamine in the brain and dopamine helps block nerve endings to different types of pain, such as seasonal depression. Dark chocolate with the highest cocoa content you can find is a great way to kick sad thoughts to the curb. 

Do you know someone who suffers from seasonal affective disorder? How do they combat the disease’s symptoms? Tell us in the comments!

Photo credit: Elana Amsterdam

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