Winter is the season of carbs.
Besides the fact that the winter season provides for us the holiday season, in which permission is given to feast, it starts with Halloween gluttony, squeezes in giant portions and many celebratory dinners, sweets and treats for Christmas and New Years, it is also home of Valentines chocolates, rolling right into Easter goodies. Then we add in an immensely limited season of sunlight as the days get shorter and the temperature becomes colder, the sun becomes hidden under a vail of cloud.
Some people are particularly sensitive to the lack of exposure to sunlight. Depression is usually the result. Depression is not about situational sadness but is more based in the feeling of despair, altering mood, long term, and triggered by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. Symptoms are that of lowered mood, lack of self esteem, lack of interest in sex, weight increase, sleep problems resulting in fatigue. It can also increase inflammation in the body and therefore makes you more vulnerable to infections, and general illnesses. Those that decide to go the medication route can also find an increase in weight due to the medication.
Depression is reported to be more prevalent with women, while men are more classified as alcoholics (as alcohol can be a self medication to cover up the depressed feelings). Men are more likely to show their depression with anger, irritability, withdrawal, and lack of care and concern for others. Women on the other hand are more likely to acknowledge sadness and the symptoms listed above and below.
Depression has three categories;
Major depression in which the feelings last for longer than two weeks such as sleep disturbances, decreased interest in activities, feelings of guilt, decreased energy, difficulty concentrating, changes in appetite, suicidal ideation.
Situational depression which lasts greater than two months due to a life change with symptoms improving in time after the event.
Vascular depression which commonly occurs after a brain or blood vessel disorder such as stroke, heart attack, heart surgery, and lesions on the brain.
It is thought that depression is related to an abnormality in the functioning of hormones in the brain as those with severe depression have a tendency to have higher levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Increased stress hormones actually shrink the size of the hippocampus, lessoning the ability to regulate emotion and increasing the inability to remember.
There is a survival benefit to depression. The survival benefit is that those who suffer from depression, see the world extremely clearly (as people often say “I am a realist, not a pessimist”). Their hypersensitivity to their experience of the world gives those who suffer from depression the self awareness to know their limitations, keeping depressed people safe by not taking risks.
One of the antidotes to the feeling of depression is to eat. Eating carbohydrates, or huge portions of any food, allows a person to get in touch with feel good hormones, allowing the feelings of depression to wain, for the moment. However, after the vail of good feelings are lifted, feelings of guilt set in, and the depression weighs down once again.
Another antidote to depression is exercise, moving, and/or doing something. It increases feel good hormones so when it is that you are feeling down it’s good to remember that directing yourself towards doing something will actually make you feel more accomplished, more energized, will start to increase self esteem, allow you to sleep better, and increase your mood.
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