Depression is a common mental disorder that affects 1 in 4 adults in the UK every year. Many people feel down in winter, when the days are shorter and darker. While many of them may just have a case of the “winter blues” some of them may be suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). It is more than just feeling sad or fed up for a few days. A low mood that doesn’t go away can be a sign of this disorder.
Depression is triggered by a disturbance in the part of the brain which controls mood and behaviour, the amygdala. Serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine are all neurotransmitters that are associated with mood and deficiencies in these neurotransmitters are linked to depression. The cold winter days can make us crave heavy comfort foods but it is important to eat well during the winter as a poor diet is a common cause of depression. This is because what we eat and drink affects the activity of neurotransmitters in the brain, making them more or less active.
A diet rich in nutrients, vitamins, minerals and amino acids will allow your body to run efficiently and your brain to function properly. Including lots of fresh fruit and vegetables in your diet is extremely important. They are rich sources of flavonoids which have mood enhancing properties. Flavonoid’s reduce free radical formation which are implicated in the mood disturbances that cause depression. They are also full of B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, iron, selenium and magnesium which are all involved in the production of neurotransmitters. Incorporating lean proteins into your diet is also an important part of maintaining a healthy body and mind as amino acids are used by the brain to make serotonin and promote feelings of happiness.
So if you can’t shake a gloomy mood or constantly feel irritated and anxious, it’s time to take charge of your health. Visit a nutritionist who can give you a diet that will boost your mood and make you feeling amazing.