Winter. It just began officially, but in Colorado it feels like we are already in the middle of it! Less daylight and colder temperatures translate into a slowing down in our general activity level. The busyness and bustle of the holidays give way to a relative calm, and with it comes the realization that Spring is months away.
Like the holidays, this can be a difficult time of the year psychologically. It is common to experience some form of depression, possibly characterized by anxious or sad emotional states, loss of interest in normal activities, unhealthy food cravings, trouble concentrating, and/or sleep issues. Some factors that can contribute to the winter blues:
- Lack of natural light: We need natural light to maintain healthy brain chemistry. The synthesis of Vitamin D is triggered by exposure to UVB radiation from the sun. Vitamin D is crucial in the production of serotonin, the brain chemical that makes us feel happy, alert and balanced, and regulates our sleep, among other important functions.
- Stress from holiday bills, increased travel times, and colder temperatures.
- Less Exercise: We tend to become more sedentary as we spend more time inside.
The good news is that there are ways you can help yourself, and effective natural therapies to aid the process if necessary. Here are some ways to help alleviate the winter blues at home:
- Light Therapy uses a combination of light and sound to wake you in a more natural way. When people are exposed to sunlight or very bright artificial light in the morning, their nocturnal melatonin (a major sleep regulation hormone) production occurs sooner, and they enter into sleep more easily at night.
- Nutrition: Keeping carbohydrate consumption to a minimum is recommended. Lean proteins, whole grains, fresh fruits, vegetables and fish are the best choice for your brain chemistry. Here are 8 foods that fight depression.
- Supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin D.
- Exercise has been shown to be as effective in eliminating depression as SSRI antidepressants. Also, exercise under natural spectrum light gives a boost to serotonin production.
- An Air Ionizer: A recent study found that high-density ionization is an antidepressant.
If you find these self-help methods are not working for you, it may be time to seek professional help. When you are feeling poorly, the tendency is to turn to medication as a quick solution. Antidepressant medications can take a month or longer to take effect, and it’s a matter of debate as to how effective they are. Studies have shown that the placebo effect accounts for at least 64% of SSRI’s benefits.
If medication is needed, at the Wholeness Center we can help to reduce the amount you need to take, reduce the side effects you may be experiencing, and suggest natural medicine therapies to assist you.
There are a number of natural therapies that have been shown to help alleviate the symptoms of depression. Helpful treatments available at the Wholeness Center include neurofeedback, naturopathic medicine, integrated psychiatry, and acupuncture.
- Integrated Psychiatry is a field of medicine that combines the best of conventional and holistic modalities to offer patients better mental health care. It evaluates the whole person: body-mind-spirit. At the Wholeness Center, we incorporate safe, effective treatments that most psychiatrists have not been trained in. Learn more.
- Neurofeedback is a form of biofeedback that utilizes sophisticated computer equipment to measure brainwave activity while teaching the patient to control his or her own brainwaves. This non-invasive and completely painless therapy has been shown to be effective for depression and a wide variety of other disorders. More about Neurofeedback.
- Naturopathic medicine is based on the philosophy that the body has its own ability to heal itself given the right environment. At the Wholeness Center, we offer many evidence-based options including IV therapy, botanical medicine, ayurvedic therapies, and nutritional medicine. Learn more.
- Acupuncture involves the insertion of very thin needles into areas of the body known as “acupoints” to stimulate “chi”, or internal energy, in order to affect a healing response. A study published last fall in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that electroacupuncture – in which a mild electric current is transmitted through the needles – was just as effective as fluoxetine (the generic name of Prozac) in reducing the symptoms of depression. Read More.
- To speak to someone about setting up an appointment, call the Wholeness Center at 970-221-1106. For more information on the services we offer, please visit our website at wholeness.com.