Shaking the Winter Blues

If you experience sadness, lethargy or a case of the blues during fall and winter, you’re not alone. Winter depression, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD), affects more than 10 million Americans every year. Symptoms of SAD, which usually begin in October and subside in March, include mild to moderate depression, a feeling of hopelessness, lack of energy, increased need for sleep, a craving for sweets and weight gain.

“Exercise and increased outdoor activity on sunny days are good ways to extinguish the winter blues,” says Chris Turf, a pharmacist at our South Boulder store. “The most common treatments for SAD are ionized-air circulation and light therapy, in which the use of bright, low-glare artificial light is used to stimulate an antidepressant response from the lower half of the retina,” he added.

Anat Barak, a certified nutritionist from Pharmaca’s Madison Park store in Seattle says, “The first thing I would recommend is vitamin D. It is best to get 2,000-5,000 IU every day during the winter.” She likes vitamin D because it doesn’t interact with other medications and is safe to take. Try brands like Biotics and Thorne to replace depleted vitamin D levels from getting less sun exposure.

Spring will soon be here, but if you experience symptoms of SAD that affect your daily living, consult your physician or visit with a Pharmaca practitioner.