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.
具有执业资格的全科医生戴维·布朗斯坦表示：“最佳的自然疗法就是全年保持理想的维生素D 水平。”他告诉美国健康医疗指南网站：“关键在于秋冬季开始进补之前不让维生素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.
乔治亚大学的研究人员分析了100 多份探讨维生素D 与抑郁症之间联系的论文， 并发现缺乏维生素D 似乎是导致季节性情感障碍的一个主要诱因。
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.
维生素D 对于合成血清素和多巴胺（两者都是与抑郁症有关的化学物质）不可或缺。所以研究人员得出结论： 如果维生素D 水平较低，就会产生抑郁，这种解释合乎逻辑。维生素D 委员会建议每天补充2000 国际单位的维生素D, 如果不常晒太阳，则应补充更多。
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.
如果天气条件允许， 多外出散步。在家里和办公室， 尽量坐在朝南的窗户旁边。
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.
把家里的电灯泡换成全光谱灯泡会大有益处，因为全光谱灯泡发出的光和太阳光相似。或者购买一个能够模拟太阳光的灯箱。布朗斯坦博士表示：“每天接受30 分钟到1 小时的全谱光线照射，对许多病人疗效甚佳。”灯箱的售价在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.”
布朗斯坦博士建议每天至少锻炼20 分钟，每周最少3 次。任何锻炼方式都会带来益处。他表示：“人们可以终身受益。坚持锻炼时间越长，益处越大。”
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.”