For all I like the opportunities that living and working in the UK has given me, I struggle each year with the winter. I get more sleepy, more hungry for carbs and my mood is lower.
I was fortunate that when I was researching my dissertation for my Post Graduate Diploma in Dietetics, I learned a whole heap about what was a fairly under-researched area of mental health dealing with winter depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder, so when it struck in my second winter in the UK, I was not completely clueless as to what was wrong with me.
Now nearly 15 years on, I think I have finally cracked a good “recipie” for me to get through the winter more or less intact:
- Effexor – still fiddling to find the right dose
- 30 minutes of physical activity daily using my Wii fit
- a minimum of 30 minutes of light therapy using my light visor in the morning
- 10 mg of Vitamin B6 between day 21 and day 28 to deal with the PMS
- 10 mcg of Vitamin D (although this is a controversial area, with my interest in nutrigenomics, I am prepared to go with its benefit for me)
- Mindfulness, accepting this is a tough time of year for me!
So if you find the winter hard, it can be worth considering SAD as a possible cause of your lower mood, increased sleepiness and weight gain.