Most of us suffer form an energy slump in winter. Much of it is due to our biological cycles and adaptation mechanisms. The body has to ensure our survival in the cold winter weather – so it acts to protect us by slowing down metabolism, piling up energy reserves (most of us put on weight in winter) and making sure they are not expended unnecessarily. A lot of complex changes happen in all the body systems to prepare us for winter.
This undoubtedly has a profound psychological effect on us. While a large majority people cope reasonably well with it, there is a fair percentage of those who suffer from what is called ‘winter blues’ or in medical terms – ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’ (SAD).
Symptoms of SAD may include of difficulty waking up in the morning, tendency to oversleep as well as to overeat, craving for carbohydrates, which leads to weight gain. Other symptoms may include a lack of energy, getting easily exhausted, headaches, difficulty concentrating, withdrawal from social activities, friends, family. All of this leads to the depression, pessimistic thoughts, feelings of hopelessness and lack of joy. Quite familiar picture for many, and this is why so many people dread winter months.
Common treatments include antidepressants, cognitive behaviour therapy, light therapy, melatonin supplementation, etc.
However, many people are completely unaware of how big a role magnesium plays in the management of SAD/ depression. Not only does it help to boost our energy levels, improve sleep, reduce anxiety, and boost circulation and metabolism, it is also a main component in the production of naturally occurring hormones – serotonin and melatonin – which play a vital role in the management of SAD, since deficiency in both lead to sleep disturbances and depression.
Magnesium plays a crucial role in the release and uptake of serotonin by the brain cells. When there is sufficient magnesium in the body we produce enough serotonin and are in balance. When magnesium levels are depleted, which is especially the case in winter months, since so much of it is needed for various body processes, serotonin levels fall, and we all experience the effect of it to a certain degree.
Traditional medical treatment with antidepressants (Prozac, Seroxat, etc) is aimed at boosting the levels of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which elevates the level of serotonin artificially. This means that instead of going through a natural process of elimination, serotonin stays in the brain for longer, and this is what produces the antidepressant effect. However, once the treatment stops the body goes back to the original serotonin deficiency mode, and the cycle starts again.
Most antidepressants have side-effects, such as weight gain, reduced sex drive, anxiety, headaches, nausea, digestive problems. Manufacturers make people aware of these of course. Other people live in a one-dimensional mode emotionally – experiencing neither emotional highs nor lows.
While some people may have an absolute need for them, others can manage their symptoms naturally – by taking oral magnesium , spraying magnesium on the body, taking magnesium baths, as well as supplementing with vitamin B-complex, calcium, selenium zinc. Other natural remedies which have proved to work are St John’s Wort and 5-HTP. Both are available at most pharmacies.
For sleep disturbances warm 30-40 minute magnesium baths before bed time are difficult to beat. Use 500g of magnesium flake per a bathful of warm water. Such baths can be taken every night, or every other night. If you experience skin dryness – use a moisturiser after a magnesium bath.
A quick way to replenish magnesium levels, boost metabolism, reduce fatigue, water retention, bood circulation, relax and regain the feel-good factor is by having a magnesium wrap. Read more about Magnesium Wraps.
Disclaimer: All the information in this post and on this website is for information only and should not be used as advice of a medical or any other nature. Please always consult your doctor if you are unwell, are on medication or suffering from any medical conditions.
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