Do you recognize the signs? Combating Seasonal Depression

Do you recognize the signs? Combating Seasonal Depression

What is seasonal depression? According to Dr. Tyrrell Jenkins MD, MPH of Krave Wellness LLC, "Seasonal depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is when a person has recurrent episodes of depression with a seasonal onset and remission pattern. It is most common especially in the winter months due to colder and shorter hours of daylight." 

Symptoms include feelings of sadness, lack of energy, loss of interest in usual activities, oversleeping, and weight gain but these symptoms are not always what we see in the black community. Typically it tends to affect women more often than men and it appears in the form of fatigue, irritability, low energy, problems concentrating, increased need for sleep, increased appetite, aches, weight gain, self-doubt as well as an increased need to be alone. 

“African-Americans have a higher rate of Vitamin D deficiency, so the lack of sunshine on our melanin skin can literally impact our mood,” psychotherapist Farah Harris stated. She continued to describe how that the mental health stigma in Black communities causes black women to keep what they are experiencing to themselves since they "need to be strong and magical." 

Let's get into some solutions. How do we combat this?

  • Get outside and get some natural sunlight. 
  • Stay connected with friends and family.
  • Make time for yourself.

This all sounds good but I know it can be hard when life starts life'n. Make your health a priority.

"Creating a habitual workout routine has done wonders for me and my mental health." Myia Skipworth of Bodied by Myia told us from experience. "As a mom of three who's also a military spouse, life can be pretty hectic. Anxiety, stress, and even depression can sneak up on us if we aren't careful."
She went on to share that her mood is completely different when she works out. "[That feeling] is related to endorphins. Endorphins can be boosted by exercise. Endorphins are an important chemical released by your body. They are released during exercise and have been shown to help reduce the symptoms of depression and help relieve the pressure of anxiety."
Sometimes being active doesn't fit into our schedule but something we can always do even when in a time crunch is to be aware of what we are putting in our bodies.  Dr. Jenkins also suggested that we make adjustments to our diets, "Vitamin D-rich foods can be very helpful in addressing seasonal depression."

He suggested:

  • Tuna fish
  • Salmon
  • Swordfish
  • Sardines
  • Foods fortified with vitamin D such as
    • cereals
    • orange juice
    • dairy products

I know regular depression is not the same as seasonal depression but something Cassandre Dunbar of the Be Well, Sis podcast stuck with me. So I'll end with a quote she shared. "Many of us are depressed in part because we are living a life that we did not design." 

Comment below ⬇️ What are some things you do when you see yourself going into a dark place? Do you recognize the changes in yourself?

Dr. Tyrrell Jenkins MD, MPH
Myia  Skipworth



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