Seasonal depression, AKA SAD, is a mood disorder associated with the change in seasons from Summer to Fall and Winter. The shorter days and reduced sunlight may have an impact on our neurochemistry and hormones by reducing the hormones serotonin and melatonin, which are produced when sunlight activates receptors in our eyes. Usual treatment approaches to SAD include efforts to get more daytime sunlight and using full spectrum light bulbs to imitate the sun.

Another approach to SAD could be to nourish the brain-gut connection with foods that enhance the production of serotonin and dopamine in the GI tract. 

The foods that enhance serotonin are foods that are high in the amino acid tryptophan. 

These include:

  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Wild fish
  • Turkey  

Foods that enhance dopamine are foods rich in the amino acid tyrosine. 

These include:  

  • Eggs
  • Meat
  • Nuts
  • Legumes
  • Soy

In other words, eat your protein foods and give your chemistry the building blocks to make the neurotransmitters of well-being!  Omega 3 fatty acids from flax, chia and fish oils are essential for the production and regulation of healthy happy hormones as well. Finally, take a daily probiotic!  Probiotics support the microbiome, which aids in the production and regulation of the serotonin and the other neurotransmitters.     

In conclusion, when the days get shorter and a gloomy mood sets in, you can empower your brain with healthy foods to enhance the production of serotonin, dopamine and other mood lifting chemicals. When possible, a 30-minute walk in the sunshine will add a healthy dose of Vitamin D and melatonin to prevent the wintertime blues.   

With love, 

Dr. G