Dark Winter Days Got You Down. Here’s Natural Help!
By Sylvia Booth Hubbard
The dreary days of winter are here, when sunlight is in short supply and nights are long and cold. Millions of Americans realize they don’t feel as chipper as usual, and may be downright depressed. If you’re one of them, you may be suffering from “seasonal affective disorder” or SAD.
SAD depression is caused by lowered levels of serotonin, the mood-affecting brain chemical that is triggered by seasonal changes in daylight. Shorter days may also disrupt the body’s biological clock – circadian rhythm – which upsets the balance of melatonin, the hormone which regulates mood and sleep patterns.
Although SAD is often confused with other problems, such as regular non-seasonal depression, people with SAD usually suffer their worst symptoms during winter and improve when spring arrives. SAD symptoms are the same as those for regular depression, and they include excessive fatigue, difficulty concentrating, sleep problems, body aches and pains, and a loss of interest in activities you normally enjoy.
Try these easy, natural ways to fight SAD:
Take extra vitamin D. The body makes vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunshine, but numerous studies show that many Americans are deficient in vitamin D even during sunny months. Levels fall even lower as fall and winter approach.
“The best natural method is to maintain optimal vitamin D levels throughout the year,” says board-certified family practitioner David Brown-stein, M. D. “The key is to not let vitamin D levels fall before beginning fall and winter supplementation,” he tells Newsmax Health.
具有執業資格的全科醫生戴維·布朗斯坦表示：“最佳的自然療法就是全年保持理想的維生素D 水平?！彼嬖V美國健康醫療指南網站：“關鍵在于秋冬季開始進補之前不讓維生素D 水平下降?！?
Researchers at the University of Georgia analyzed more than 100 articles that examined the link between vitamin D and depression. Researchers found that a lack of vitamin D appeared to be a major factor in the development of SAD.
喬治亞大學的研究人員分析了100 多份探討維生素D 與抑郁癥之間聯系的論文， 并發現缺乏維生素D 似乎是導致季節性情感障礙的一個主要誘因。
Vitamin D is necessary for the synthesis of serotonin and dopamine(chemicals associated with depression), so researchers concluded that a link between low vitamin D levels and depression was logical. The Vitamin D Council recommends 2,000 IU daily, but suggests taking more if you get little exposure to the sun.
維生素D 對于合成血清素和多巴胺（兩者都是與抑郁癥有關的化學物質）不可或缺。所以研究人員得出結論： 如果維生素D 水平較低，就會產生抑郁，這種解釋合乎邏輯。維生素D 委員會建議每天補充2000 國際單位的維生素D, 如果不常曬太陽，則應補充更多。
Get more light. Most researchers agree that the people who fall victim to SAD most often are particularly sensitive to the lack of light. Although any amount of outdoor light can help raise serotonin levels, getting light in the morning seems to offer the most benefit.
If the weather permits, take a walk. In your home or office, try sitting close to a window that faces south.
如果天氣條件允許， 多外出散步。在家里和辦公室， 盡量坐在朝南的窗戶旁邊。
Replacing light bulbs in your home with full spectrum light bulbs can help because they emit light similar to sunlight. Or you can buy a light box that delivers light that mimics sunlight. “Exposure to full spectrum lighting for 30 minutes to one hour per day can help many patients,” says Dr. Brown-stein. Light boxes can be purchased for around $200.
把家里的電燈泡換成全光譜燈泡會大有益處，因為全光譜燈泡發出的光和太陽光相似?；蛘哔徺I一個能夠模擬太陽光的燈箱。布朗斯坦博士表示：“每天接受30 分鐘到1 小時的全譜光線照射，對許多病人療效甚佳?！睙粝涞氖蹆r在200 美元左右。
Do NOT use sun lamps or tanning beds for self-treatment – they use UV light for tanning, while light boxes use full-spectrum light that simulates daylight.
Increase exercise. Although exercising may be about the last thing you want to do and would rather curl up with a book or watch a DVD, studies have shown that upping your exercise routine can counteract SAD. Exercise raises levels of serotonin and also increases levels of endorphins, which are responsible for “runner’s high” and have been shown to fight depression.
Dr. Brownstein advises exercising at least 20 minutes a day at least three times a week. Any type of exercise offers benefits. “The benefits are also long lasting,” he says. “The longer you do it, the more benefit you’ll get.”
布朗斯坦博士建議每天至少鍛煉20 分鐘，每周最少3 次。任何鍛煉方式都會帶來益處。他表示：“人們可以終身受益。堅持鍛煉時間越長，益處越大?！?
Eat more fish. Fatty fish, such as salmon and sardines, contain omega-3 fatty acids. Studies have found that people who have low levels of two chemicals found in fish, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are at increased risk for depression. Either eat more fish – at least three times a week – or take fish oil capsules to combat SAD.
Try St. John’s wort. Use of this herb as medicine dates to the ancient Greeks, and it has been used for centuries to treat depression. “The Cochrane Collaboration, an independent, non-profit healthcare study group, found St. John’s wort compares favorably to SSRIs and older tricyclic medications in patients with major depression,” says Dr. Brownstein. “In addition, St. John’s wort was found to have 75 percent fewer side effects than standard medications used to treat depression.”