Are You Feeling the Wintertime Blues?
Ten Easy Steps to Turn
by David Edelberg , M.D. - Author
Triple Whammy Cure: The Breakthrough Womens Health Program
Feeling Good Again in 3 Weeks
If you live in a sunny place like
Florida then you probably wont know what Im talking about. The
wintertime blues, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), usually
begin when the days start getting shorter and the sky clouds over into
perpetual gray. People with SAD dread October because the clocks move back an
hour and, in a single day, autumn twilight becomes dark night.
Symptoms of SAD include
depression, brain fog, easy sleepiness, carb craving, and weight gain.
At the very heart of the
wintertime blues is a lack of the feel-good brain chemical serotonin. When the
gray winter days in the Northern Hemisphere arrive, the serotonin you stored up
in the sunny summer months starts declining. At the same time, your
brains stores of sleep-inducing melatonin increase, making you feel like
a hibernating bear.
Women are the major victims of
wintertime blues because all women start life with less serotonin in their
brains than men. But if youre someone trapped in a SAD life, with no
immediate prospects of wintering on the Costa del Sol, you can beat the
wintertime blues and get your life back. Basically, youll need to pull
out the stops and do everything you can to stimulate your brain to make more
serotonin. This includes lighting up your life, exercising, taking a couple
common supplements, and timing your intake of good carbohydrates throughout the
Here are 10 low-cost steps you can
take right now to banish the wintertime blues:
1. Go outside and walk briskly
with your face in the light -- even if its gray outside -- for 20 minutes
every day. Both the light and the exercise will kick up your feel-good
serotonin. Of course, if the wind-chill outside will deep-freeze your face,
find a health club with windows, locate a treadmill or a stationary bike in the
brightest light, and hop on.
2. Keep your curtains or blinds
pulled open all the way so sunlight (or daylight, even on cloudy days) can pour
into your living/work space.
3. Paint your walls light colors
-- theyll reflect the light.
4. If your car has a sunroof, let
in the light while you drive (singing along to your favorite songs is optional,
but I recommend that too).
5. Increase the wattage of your
light bulbs to between 5,000 and 10,000 lux (units of light). Choose subcompact
fluorescent bulbs, a bit more expensive but mine have lasted 7+ years. The
newer bulbs dont have the annoying flicker and strange light the old
fluorescent tubes once had, use 25% less energy than a standard bulb, and fit
in most fixtures. If you have any sort of a desk job, buy a full spectrum light
box (available online) and aim it at your languishing self for an hour a
6. Add the raw materials your body
needs to make more serotonin by taking these supplements every day: 2 grams of
fish oil and one B complex 100.
7. Eat a small amount of
high-quality carbohydrates with every meal and as snacks throughout your day.
Fruits, nuts, veggies, and whole grains are among the best choices, as are
beans, soups, and oatmeal. You need a little carbohydrate at every meal for
your brain to produce serotonin. In fact, craving comfort foods in the winter
is your bodys cry for more carbs to boost serotonin -- but, please, if
you want to keep your weight stable, make good food choices most of the time.
8. Premenstrual aggravation of
wintertime blues is very common. If you notice a worsening in the week or so
before your period, understand that your hormones are taking your serotonin
levels on a roller-coaster ride: when your estrogen drops, as it does in the
week before your period, your feel-good serotonin goes right along with it. Get
your PMS under control by following the healing path in The Triple Whammy Cure.
9. Try alternative therapies:
acupuncture and Chinese herbal remedies -- together called traditional Chinese
medicine -- have a seasonal component that make them effective for mild
wintertime blues. Flower essence therapies like honeysuckle, mustard, and sweet
chestnut all have antidepressant and energizing qualities. And bodywork
therapies such as massage and Reiki allow your chi to flow freely thought your
body, reducing symptoms of wintertime blues.
10. If after trying the ideas in
items 1-9 your symptoms havent budged, consider taking St. Johns
wort or 5HTP, both of which increase serotonin levels.
Copyright © 2006
David Edelberg, M.D., the author of The
Triple Whammy Cure, is a practicing physician for more than 30
years and was chief medical adviser of WholehealthMD.com. In 1993, he founded
American Wholehealth (AWH), a network of health care centers that combines
conventional and alternative medicine. He teaches alternative and integrative
medicine to medical students and residents from the University of Chicago. To
sign up for Dr. Edelbergs free monthly e-newsletter, visit