Help to Beat the Winter Blues

January 11, 2008
http://www.motherearthnews.com/natural-health/help-to-beat-the-winter-blues.aspx



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After the holiday decorations have come down and your relatives have all gone home, you may find yourself stuck with a case of the winter blues. Colder temperatures and limited sunshine can make anyone feel like curling up in bed rather than facing the outside world.

Each year, millions of Americans suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression that strikes during the winter months. The exact cause of SAD is unknown, but the decreasing daylight that wintertime brings is thought to be a trigger for the condition. Even if you don't suffer from SAD, the short days of winter can be enough to make anyone feel down.

The good news is there are many affordable, natural remedies for the winter blues. One simple option is to try to get more sunshine, whether by spending more time sitting next to a window when you're inside, or increasing the amount of time you spend outdoors each day. For more severe cases of seasonal depression, a common treatment is light therapy, in which patients sit in front of light boxes for an allotted time each day for exposure to artificial sunshine.

Here are a few other remedies that can help combat dreary winter moods:


St. John's Wort

This herb has been found to help alleviate mild to moderate depression, and it works as well as standard antidepressants, according to the journal American Family Physician. You should consult with your health care professional before starting a regimen of St. John's Wort to find out about possible issues with other medications. For example, taking this herb can compromise the effectiveness of oral contraceptives.

Yoga

Studies have shown that all types of yoga are effective as complementary treatment for depression. Relatively inexpensive and easy to learn, yoga can help move your focus inward and bring calm to your body and mind. Yoga is helpful because it provides emotional, psychological and physical benefits to your body. Learn more about yoga here.


Vitamin D

Current research indicates that vitamin D deficiency may be linked to a wide range of health problems including osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer and yes, depression. The best way to get vitamin D might seem obvious: Get some sun! But it may also be a good idea to consider vitamin D supplements. In the winter, the low angle of the sun can make it difficult for some populations to get enough vitamin D, for example the elderly, and those who live at northern latitudes. You can learn much more about vitamin D, and whether or not supplements are a good idea for you, in the February/March issue of Mother Earth News, which goes on sale Jan. 29.


Do you have any tried and true methods to beat the winter blues? Has yoga, St. John's Wort or vitamin D helped you in the past? Share your thoughts by posting a comment.