Feeling sluggish and slow these days, making it hard to just get out of bed in the morning?
If you feel in a funk with the "winter blues", you're not alone.
With this being a particularly harsh winter, millions are feeling down in the dumps. The U.S. National Library of Medicine notes that "some people experience a serious mood change when the seasons change. They may sleep too much, have little energy, and may also feel depressed.
The medical name for this condition is "seasonal affective disorder" or SAD. People can also experience spring and summer depression, and some symptoms include insomnia, anxiety, irritability, decreased appetite, weight loss, social withdrawal, and decreased sex drive.
SAD is more prevalent in New England and less in the Southeast. New Hampshire owns the highest percentage at 9.7 percent while the snow bird capitol of Florida ranks lowest at 1.4 percent.
SAD was formally described and named in 1984 by Norman E. Rosenthal and his colleagues at the National Institute of Mental Health. After experiencing his own bout of depression during the dark days of winter in the northern U.S., he theorized that the lesser amount of light in winter was the cause.
According to Mayo Clinic, treatment for seasonal affective disorder includes light therapy (phototherapy), psychotherapy and medications. A study of Canadians of wholly Icelandic descent, however, showed low levels of SAD.
Some studies attributed this to the large amount of fish traditionally eaten by Icelanders. One study comparing the higher fish consumption of Canadians and Japanese to Americans proved this theory. Fish are high in vitamin D and contain docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which can help with neurological dysfunctions.
Other than light therapy, medications or simply moving to sunny Florida, your most practical way to fight winter blues is with diet, and adding fish is a good start.
By Jim Zbick