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Foods That Fight Winter Depression

When long nights bring on a long face, this can mean seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Here are some tips to help fight off the winter blues.

By Jean Lawrence
WebMD Feature

Reviewed By Michael Smith

The winter blues can leave you not only feeling down in the dumps, but they can also send you rummaging for sweets. Don't get caught up in this vicious cycle.

Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a form of depression that affects 25 million Americans, mostly women. Much research has been done on this mysterious disorder.

In somewhat of a simplification, the lack of light in wintertime can result in lower levels of serotonin, the mood-enhancing chemical that regulates hunger and the feeling of well-being.

Serotonin production increases with light, meaning that gray gloom creeping in the window is not kicking the production of feel-good chemicals into action.

Some symptoms include depression, marathon napping, low self-esteem, obsessiveness over little things, irritability, shyness, and panic attacks. People with seasonal affective disorder may also sleep poorly (although for many hours), partly because they don't have enough serotonin to convert to the sleep substance melatonin.