“Research has shown that low levels of vitamin D may be associated with depression, and this may be particularly important during the winter months when sun exposure is limited,” explains Dr. Jampolis. You can get your D levels checked via a blood test to find out if you're meeting the daily recommended supplement dose, which is 1000 IU of vitamin D3. “D3 is the most active form,” says Dr. Jampolis. Also, consider eating foods fortified with the vitamin — such as cereal, milk, and OJ — since foods don’t contain it naturally.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
There’s research that suggests an association between low levels of omega-3 fatty acids (as well as a high ratio of omega-6) and depression, so it’s important to get enough in your diet. “If you don’t eat fatty fish like salmon, sardines, tuna, or herring at least twice a week, I recommend taking a high quality omega-3 fatty-acid supplement.” Try Omax3 Ultra-Pure.
“Low levels of certain B vitamins have been associated with depression. And, it’s especially important in vegans and people who do not consume a balanced diet — for example, if you exclude a major food group due to allergy, intolerance, or to follow a specific diet,” says Dr. Jampolis. Eat B-rich foods, such as fortified tofu, cheese, and shellfish, to supplement your diet, too.
You know how sometimes a bowl of pasta can solve everything after a long winter's day? That’s because a low-carb diet can lead to a drop in serotonin levels, the hormone responsible for a balanced mood. “Following a low-carbohydrate diet is probably not a good idea if you suffer from a winter mood disorder, which can make mood disorders worse,” says Dr. Jampolis. Just make sure to add some veggies into the mix and opt for whole-wheat variations that won’t spike blood sugar, too.
How do you know if you really have S.A.D.?
Yes, eating healthy foods and hitting the gym can make you feel better. But, if you experience low energy, extreme carb cravings, weight gain, zero sex drive, constant hunger, and fatigue for more than two weeks straight, it might be time to see a doc. “If I’m suspicious of S.A.D., I refer patients to an expert in treating this specific condition,” she says.