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Longest night, darkest mood

In astronomy, winter solstice occurs when the earth is tilted furthest from the sun. Typically this occurs around December 21st in the northern hemisphere, and June 21st in the southern hemisphere. What makes the winter solstice so special? It marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year. For many, it brings with it an astronomical illness: Depression.

Everyone has experienced low mood, a case of the ‘blahs’ or feeling ‘blue’. However, depression is more than that: It negatively affects how you feel, think, and act.

Depression is diagnosed if you:

  1. feel depressed for most of the day, more days than not, for at least 2 weeks, and

  2. have at least 5 of the following symptoms: Diminished interest/pleasure in activities, unintentional change in weight, sleep problems, agitation or lethargy, fatigue, feeling guilty or worthless, trouble concentrating, or recurrent thoughts of death. In order for it to be diagnosed as depression, these symptoms must cause impairment in important areas of daily function.

Approximately 30-50% of depressed people will have thoughts of suicide and about 30% will attempt self-harm. People over 70 and those 18-25 years old, are especially at risk.

You don’t have to have depression to experience the winter blues. Lack of sunshine, longer nights and decreased activity, among other factors, can contribute to that feeling of cabin fever. But you don’t have to put a buckshot through your freezer!

Here are 5 simple tips to help you beat the blues:

  1. Consider taking vitamin D3 supplements

  2. Sit in broad spectrum light for 20 minutes a day

  3. Gentle exercise, including sex, can boost your feel-good brain hormones

  4. Hibernate like other mammals: Get plenty of sleep

  5. Practice positive affirmations or gratitude journal daily

If someone you know is depressed, having suicidal thoughts or making a plan, please seek professional medical help immediately.

Hold on to hope: the days get longer by 1 minute each day after the winter solstice. Let’s shed some light on depression, adopt healthy resilient behaviours, and outsmart old man winter! •

Dr. Wysynski MD, functional medicine and hormone expert, has helped patients achieve longevity goals for over 13 years. She is located in Burlington ON. 289 812 2190

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Silver and Gold Magazine, Winter 2018 issue. To read more of our amazing articles, please visit our website and link to our LIVE magazine online!

#depression #mentalillness #SeasonalAffectiveDisorder #vitaminc #winterblues #silverandgold

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