Are you feeling depressed by the cold and the lack of light? You have Seasonal Depression, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, because it starts in late fall through early spring.
We start light therapy
For who ? Those in whom the stroke of the blues is accompanied by a feeling of sadness, difficulty getting up in the morning … “Even if the origins of seasonal depression are still poorly understood, one of the causes would be the decrease in the intensity and duration of daylight, which would lead to a disruption of the biological clock”, explains Dr Rafal.
How it works ? The ideal is to expose yourself to daylight, at least 30 min. Otherwise, light therapy lamps replace this exposure.
How do we do it?We choose a light therapy device with the medical CE marking, of at least 10,000 lux. We place ourselves at a good distance, without looking at the light directly and we expose ourselves gradually: 10, 15, then 30 min per day, for 4 weeks.
Light therapy is contraindicated for eye damage or eye disease that may increase sensitivity to light. The advice of a doctor is essential if you are taking treatment.
Also read: our sheet on light therapy.
We stock up on tryptophan on our plate
For who ? Those in whom seasonal depression is accompanied by compulsive snacking, mood swings.
How it works ? By promoting the production of serotonin – a mood hormone – tryptophan would have an antidepressant effect. Studies have also found that supplementation with 5-HTP (a derivative of tryptophan) may decrease symptoms of depression.
How do we do it? We choose a food supplement based on L-tryptophan. For example Nergestress (LPEV) or Tryptophane Détente Sérénité (Yves Ponroy).
There are also supplements based on 5-HTP such as Noxidrim (Solgar) or plant extracts (EPS from Griffonia PhytoPrevent). As a precaution, they are not combined with antidepressants. Tryptophan is also found in foods rich in protein (eggs, fish, meat, legumes, etc.) or in bananas.
We put on St. John’s Wort, a plant antidepressant
For who ? Those who suffer from seasonal depression, but wish to avoid conventional antidepressants.
How it works ? The World Health Organization recognizes the use of oral St. John’s Wort in mild to moderate depression. “The mode of action of this plant remains mysterious, but it would act, among other things, by modifying the level of serotonin”, says Dr. Rafal.
How do we do it? St. John’s Wort can be taken as a whole fresh plant suspension (SIPF Synergia) or as dry extract tablets (Procalmil from Arkopharma, Mildac from Mediflor). The dosage should be adjusted according to the intensity of the depression, ideally with a doctor, and not to exceed 1 g per day.
It should be taken at least 4 weeks to notice an improvement. Read the package leaflet carefully and check for interactions with other medicines, and do not stop it suddenly.
We combine acupuncture and antidepressants
For who ? Those in whom symptoms remain mild. In the event of true depression, acupuncture intervenes in addition to the treatments.
How it works ? In 2011, a meta-analysis looked at thirty clinical trials on depression and acupuncture. Several of them have shown a benefit of acupuncture when combined with antidepressants, compared to drugs alone. It could help by releasing euphoric endorphins and promoting the flow of energies. The points to be stimulated are chosen according to the symptoms.
How do we do it?“In the case of seasonal depression, you should plan one session per week for 2 or 3 weeks, before moving to one session per month throughout the winter”, advises Dr Rafal. If you do not notice any change after 3 weeks, it is better to stop. There is no contraindication.
Read also: Depression, three techniques to replace drugs