Special to The Journal
There are things Sarnia residents can do to help get through the winter blues, local health advocates say.
Our lack of exposure to the sun during winter months is a main cause of the February blahs and its more serious cousin, Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, said pharmacist Richard Kelch, of Northgate Pharmacy.
Studies published in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry have shown that deficiencies of Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, are linked to lower moods and cognitive performance.
Kelch recommends taking 400 to 1000 IU of Vitamin D year round.
“Most people do not have enough sun exposure to get the required amount of Vitamin D, regardless of the time of year, and it requires the sun beaming directly on our skin,” he said.
The use of anti-depressant drugs also tend to increase during the winter months when sun exposure decreases, he added.
Eating the proper foods and physical activity can also help get us through the long, dark days of winter, said Veona Drennan, a practitioner with the Sarnia Holistic Health Centre.
She recommends people stretch for 10 minutes and walk outside for 20 minutes daily.
“Drink lots of water or calming herbal teas (and) ingest green, leafy chlorophyll-rich vegetables, such as kale, or consume dehydrated green superfoods like seaweed,” she said.
According to Drennan, moods can be lifted with aromatherapy, using lavender or bergamot for relaxation, and peppermint or orange for energy.
Psychiatrist and author Norman E. Rosenthal was the first to call the winter blues Seasonal Affective Disorder in the 1980s. He advocates light therapy as a way to combat SAD, because it can decrease our sleep hormone, boost feel-good neurotransmitters and shift our sleep rhythms.
According to the Mood Disorders Association of Canada, 2% to 6% of Canadians will experience SAD at some point in their lives, and another 15% will experience a milder form.
The disorder is more common in women and people aged 20 to 40. It is less common among the elderly.