The month of April has been dubbed the "Cruelest Month", with a rise in depression, anxiety, even exhaustion. If you're feeling this way, you're not alone.
After a long Canadian winter, we are naturally expecting that Spring will have finally arrived, and anxiety rises its ugly head as we await warmer weather and flowers budding. When this automatically doesn't happen, we feel depressed.
Yes, some of these feelings may be related to weather, as studies have shown the bioclimatic factors of increased sunlight, temperature and humidity affect our mood and sleep, which in turn affect our body's release of hormones, which in turn affect outlook on life in general. It's the early-spring "boost" (mid-February through to March) followed by a crash: Just as when those suffering from depression feel a sudden spike in well-being when they're first prescribed anti-depressants, and then their bodies adjusts to the settling effects of medication. And almost the same way the body will "crash" after an intake of sugary-sweets. These bioclimatic factors, coupled with our body's adjustment to weather changes, are adjusting and until they do completely, many of us will feel its effects as a negative transition.
April is a teaser: It's milder, but not really enough to bring out the spring jacket. Some plants begin to bud, but not enough to begin the gardening season. It's brighter outside, but not long enough for outdoor walks or cottage season.
The month of April is also when many people begin to feel the effects of Spring allergies. Studies have also shown that these early symptoms of allergies – which release substances called "cytokines", or a form of protein that signals healthy brain cell production, have an effect on our brain's neurotransmitters. Basically, they create a state of confusion.
There are some recommended forms of nutrition, exercise, and physical transitions, that have been proven to help many people fight depression. While not all of these remedies will help everyone exactly the same, they are a natural way of increasing your body's adjustment to Spring, and relieving some of the depression and anxiety associated with it:
Consume plenty of fresh, organic, colourful vegetables – such as steamed kale, spinach, carrots and squash. Juicing and drinking smoothies are healthy ways to intake the wholesome nutrition that these bright and healthy vegetables provide.
Increase consumption of foods that are high in omega oils – such as salmon, white fish, walnuts, chia seeds, eggs, flax seeds, or look into taking Omega Oils supplements. 33% of the brain's fatty acids are composed of the omega-3 family, and increasing intake of this vital oil will help your brain function properly.
More time outdoors during the day, more rest at night. Sometimes adjusting your sleep schedule will help fight the feelings of depression that many feel at night: Wake earlier, go to bed earlier.
Consume teas such as chamomile and St. John's Wort* (see note below), use Essential Oils such as Lavender to improve mood.
Get involved in your community – Look at trying out a new class or craft, join a group, or volunteer to help others.
If depression or anxiety persist, don't be ashamed to consult your health care practitioner, nutritionist or naturopath, who can guide you on the right track to health and happiness.
*St. John's wort limits the effectiveness of many prescription medicines. Combining St. John's wort and certain antidepressants can lead to a potentially life-threatening increase in your body's levels of serotonin, a chemical produced by nerve cells. Don't try to treat depression on your own.
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