Diet Change May Mitigate Seasonal Depression 

A week into spring, and it still feels like winter.

“It’s cold. I work at a farm and I’m always freezing. I wish it would just warm up already,” said a woman in Bangor. “It’s been a pretty tough winter but hopefully it will be over soon,” said one man.

The “winter blues” aren’t just a myth, it’s a real thing that doctors call seasonal affective disorder.

“The farther away you live from the equator when it’s the dark season, the rate of depression in the population goes up,” says Dr. David Prescott, Clinical Psychologist.

Experts say depression is more common in Maine than other states, and in the frigid months, it increases.

“Just like all northern latitude states, has a higher rate of depression in the winter,” Prescott explained.

Doctors say to look out for symptoms like low mood and energy and loss of appetite.

But feeding your appetite is one way to limit winter-time depression, says Registered Dietician, Mary Lavanway.

“If you’re not getting enough basic energy, so whether it’s carbs, proteins, fat, just our total energy for the day, you’re certainly going to be more emotionally vulnerable,” Lavanway said.

Carbs, found in bread and pasta, actually effect the chemicals in the brain.

“When we eat carbohydrates, they increase our level of serotonin and serotonin is the neuro chemical that makes us feel happy and life is good,” she explained.

B vitamins boost energy levels and are in leafy greens. Good fats found in fish like salmon, promote healthy and efficient brain activity.

“The fat is a great conductor of these messages and we want the right message and the right firing,” said Lavanway.

Lavanway says too much of a good thing is possible, so always check food labels carefully.