Fending Off Depression Symptoms in Winter
Try this winter game plan to ease symptoms of depression.
Beware If You Crave Sweets and Carbs
Craving carbohydrates -- especially sweets -- is a common symptom of SAD,
But the boost in energy you get form these simple carbs is temporary, and
the extra sweets can mean you'll put on weight. "I recommend a diet low in
simple carbohydrates and high in complex carbohydrates [such as whole grain
foods and starchy vegetables such as potatoes] and protein," he says.
Minimize Exposure to Depressing News
Listening to the news 24-7 may depress your mood even more, says Gelenberg.
It's stressful, and minimizing stress can improve your mood, he says.
Ration your viewing of potentially bad news. He did that himself, Gelenberg
says, after the 9-11 terrorist attacks. "One of the things I did was not
watch or listen to the news after dinner," he says. "I listened to news
before dinner, I was very much keeping myself in the flow of information, but I
needed a few hours in the evening to watch funny shows."
Read biographies of famous and inspiring people, suggests Alexander Obolsky,
MD, a Chicago psychiatrist and assistant professor of clinical psychiatry and
behavioral science at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of
Or go see movies about people overcoming adversity, he suggests. It will put
life in perspective.
Reach Out and Keep Moving
Easier said than done, acknowledges Josephson. But he encourages his
patients with winter depression to try both. "Reach out to others as
much as you can," he says. "Do it independently of how you feel. As the
sneaker ad says, 'Just do it.'"
"Mood is highly correlated with activity level," says Josephson.
"When people get depressed, they tend to withdraw and do less." He
encourages those with SAD to return to their previous level of physical
activity. When they do, mood improves.
Any boost in activity will help, he says, even walking around the block or
getting out to a ball game.