Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs in the winter. It is triggered by the decrease in natural light that starts in fall and ends in spring. Those with SAD have many treatment options that do not involve traditional drug therapy.
One thing that many SAD sufferers find helpful is eating steamed potatoes. Steaming the potatoes instead of cooking them by other methods optimizes their health benefits. Especially important is the amino acid tryptophan.
What Is Tryptophan and Why Is It Important?
Serotonin is a chemical in the brain. It is a neurotransmitter that has a major impact on the mood. Those who suffer from depression have lower levels of serotonin than those who do not.
Serotonin is made from the amino acid tryptophan. Eating foods high in tryptophan allows the body to produce more serotonin. This in turn improves mood and helps diminish the effects of SAD.
What Other Foods are Good for SAD Sufferers?
Broccoli, pasta and brown rice are other foods that have lots of tryptophan. To make the most of the tryptophan contained in these foods they should be eaten about 3 hours after a meal rich in protein.
Folic acid is another nutrient that is beneficial to those with depression. It is found in many vegetables, including cabbage, avocados and asparagus. Beans and oranges also have high levels of folic acid.
B vitamins, especially B12, can boost energy levels and have a positive effect on mood. These vitamins are found in many foods, such as leafy green vegetables, whole grains and a variety of meats.
Omega-3 fatty acids are another nutritional element that can be beneficial to those with SAD. These are found in many types of fish. Those who do not like fish can find it in cod liver oil. Cod liver oil also has lots of vitamins A and D, both of which are important for physical and mental well-being.
Why Use Diet to Treat SAD?
Doctors often prescribe light therapy for those with SAD. It is often beneficial. In the most severe cases, it may not be enough.
The next step for most doctors is prescription drugs. The drugs prescribed for depression often have undesirable side effects. By using diet to boost seratonin levels, energy and mood, you may be able to avoid drugs altogether while still effectively treating your disorder.
Less severe cases of SAD may respond to diet without formal light therapy. Simply eating foods that promote mental health and getting plenty of natural light may be enough to keep your winter depression at bay. Not only would this be much less expensive than drug therapy, it would also be far less risky.