“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn, or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, gratitude”Denis Waitley
Seasonal depression, also called Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real condition that affects many Melanin Rich people. Understanding what is going on with our bodies and minds in relation to nature and our DNA will empower us to take control of our health and experience greater gratitude, peace, and resilience.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that occurs each year, beginning in the fall and continuing through the winter months. Symptoms usually subside or cease to exist in the spring and summer months.
Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder
Those impacted by seasonal depression may experience any of the following on a mild to severe basis:
- Deceased energy
- Tiredness and lethargy
- Loss of interest in activities
- Weight gain
- Increase craving of comfort foods
- Feelings of hopelessness, apathy, or giving up
Causes of Seasonal Affective Disorder
The major cause of SAD is the decrease in sunlight and daylight hours. This causes a disruption of the body’s internal natural rhythm (circadian rhythm), and a decrease in serotonin levels in the brain. Although the Middle Passage physically brought us here hundreds of years ago, our DNA is still at home (Afrika). As a melanin dominant people, the sun is indispensable to our physical, mental, and energetic health. The pineal gland’s ability to secrete melanin which turns into serotonin and produces melatonin is dependent on adequate sunlight. Given our innate connection to nature and the sun, less access to sunlight during the fall and winter months negatively impacts our health. Having a poor diet and a lack of exercise can make a bad situation worse, often resulting in seasonal depression.
Combating seasonal depression is going to require taking an active, committed role in engaging in self-healing from a holistic approach. The following steps can be taken to combat seasonal depression:
Get as much sunlight as possible, even if the temperature is cold. Even a short amount of time in the sun will do the body and mind good.
Physical activity stimulates the release of serotonin and increases the level of endorphins which improves mood, promotes better sleep, and increases energy
Dehydration causes feelings of sluggishness and lethargy. Drinking at least half your body weight in water daily is important to stay energized and improve cognitive function.
Low Vitamin D levels have been linked to an increased risk of SAD. Taking a Vitamin D3 supplement can help. Vitamin B12 has been shown to improve mood and increase energy. Melatonin supplements have been shown to combat SAD symptoms as well. Before taking any supplements, check with your Healthcare Professional.
Attitude of Gratitude
The Psalmist says, “I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth”. Gratitude is an insulation and protection from depression. There is always something to be thankful for. Always. Be proactive in counting your blessings, no matter how small. Find reasons to laugh, smile and find joy.
If you are feeling less motivated, tired, or withdrawn during the fall and winter months it is not because you are lazy or in a bad mood. Seasonal depression is real. Be patient with yourself, take active steps to care for yourself and know that this too shall pass.