Ain’t No Sunshine: Seasonal SADness and Magnesium
Winter is here. Which means you may soon be suffering from the winter blues (if you aren’t already). Many people suffer from a slump in the winter months. More people than you may realize. Depression touches the lives of many and around this time of year it can be an even bigger struggle to stay positive.
Winter blues are a form of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This disorder is also commonly known as summertime sadness or seasonal depression.
Seasonal affective disorder is a mood disorder that affects people who have no mental health issues through the majority of the year, but experience depressive symptoms in the winter or summer months.
It is a form of depression that is related to changes in the seasons, usually beginning and ending at about the same time every year.
Symptoms of SAD are quite similar to other forms of depression.
- low energy
- changes in weight and appetite
- problems getting along with people
- being withdrawn
- difficulty concentrating
- sleep issues
These symptoms can lead to feelings of hopelessness and severe depression. Factors that can contribute should be addressed and remedied before it gets worse.
What Makes Us SAD?
Often the specific cause of SAD remains unknown, however some factors that can contribute may include:
- Reduced levels of sunlight in fall and winter. This decrease in sunlight may throw off your body’s internal clock and lead to feelings of depression. Obviously, this is only a factor for you if you experience SAD in wintertime.
- A drop in serotonin, a brain chemical that affects mood. Among other things, reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin which can provoke depression.
- Changes in season can disturb the balance of the body’s melatonin levels, which play a major role in our sleep patterns and mood. Inadequate or disrupted sleep has been linked to depression.
- Chronically low magnesium levels. This can impact both serotonin and melatonin levels at any time of year.
About four to six percent of people may have winter depression. People that are suffering from seasonal affective disorder make up about 10% of all depression cases. Seasonal affective disorder is four times more common in women than in men. Although some children and teenagers do develop SAD, it doesn’t usually affect people younger than 20. SAD rates are also lower in people over 50. People in northern locales are more susceptible to the disorder than those who live closer to the equator, because the number of daylight hours is lower the farther north you go.
Are you Depressed or Just Magnesium Deficient?
Magnesium helps boost energy levels, enhances sleep, reduces anxiety and improves circulation, as well as metabolism. It is a major factor in the production of serotonin and melatonin, both of which can play a crucial role in SAD. A deficiency in either can lead to sleep disturbances and depression.
Insufficient levels of magnesium can decrease the production of serotonin and melatonin.
In winter, your need for magnesium is at its highest. With your body producing less serotonin due to restricted daylight and melatonin due to season changes, you really need the boost that magnesium can give you in terms of these hormones.
Magnesium does more than many people realize. Nearly everyone is magnesium deficient to some extent. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency are so common that we often shrug them off and they fly under the radar. Magnesium deficiency can cause fatigue, headaches, asthma, insomnia, obesity, anxiety, diabetes, brain fog and depression, as well as many other health issues.
A few factors that can cause magnesium depletion are high stress levels, high-sugar diets and processed foods. Stress hormone production requires high levels of magnesium, meaning that stressful experiences can lead to the depletion of magnesium counts. Also, we are consuming more sugar than ever. Eating large amounts of sugar causes magnesium to be excreted by the kidneys. Refined and processed foods are stripped of their mineral, vitamin and fiber content. These are anti-nutrient foods because they actually rob the body of magnesium in order to be metabolized. It’s important to be extra mindful of these things when the weather is cold and you need all the magnesium you can get.
Magnesium is a healthy, natural and effective way to assist with treating seasonal affective disorder by encouraging your body to make more serotonin and melatonin at a time of year when you need it most.
How Can I Get More Magnesium?
There are plenty of delicious foods that you can consume that are full of magnesium. A few examples:
- Brazil Nuts
- Raw fruits and vegetables (eating foods raw and unprocessed means that they won’t deplete your body’s mineral stores when you digest them)
You can also CUT foods that strip minerals from your body, wasting your magnesium. These include:
- Refined sugar
- Regular and decaffeinated coffee
- Table salt
A magnesium supplement is also recommended because it is hard to get enough magnesium from food. A magnesium spray, like our EASE Magnesium, will restore your magnesium levels faster than an oral magnesium supplement and without the unpleasant side-effects.
Magnesium isn’t the whole picture though, there are other natural steps you can take to help treat SAD.
What Else Can You Do?
Change up your daily routine and your living space by:
- Spending more time outdoors during the day; go for a walk or just sit outside
- Keeping your curtains open during the day, allowing more natural light into your home
- Moving your furniture around so that you sit near a window
- Getting more physical activity. Physical activity relieves stress, builds energy and increases your physical and mental well-being
- Maintaining a healthy diet, emphasizing foods that are naturally high in magnesium, such as pumpkin seeds, almonds, brazil nuts, kelp, bananas, and cashews
Though there is no clear-cut way to prevent the development of seasonal affective disorder, you can take steps early to help prevent symptoms from worsening if you tend to feel low during the winter months. If you are able to take control of your symptoms, you’ll have a head start battling serious mood changes, nosediving energy levels and harmful appetite changes.
Taking little steps can help, whether you just try and get outside more or open your curtains up to the world outside. Seasonal affective disorder is not something that should be brushed off or dismissed. This time of year can be especially difficult for people. Depression, no matter the root, should be taken seriously. Take steps and get it under control, before it gets worse. Don’t let the winter blues get you down. You can be in charge. With proper magnesium intake, a healthy diet and some sunshine, you can kiss the winter blues goodbye and enjoy the season!