Drink the Blues Away

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While it’s not the typical season to discuss such a condition, a newsworthy tidbit has come to light regarding seasonal affective disorder. Better known by its acronym, SAD, this involves more than just having the “winter Blahs” but actually suffering, as it were, from a disorder.

 About six percent of Americans have SAD and another 20% may experience its symptoms irregularly, which include fatigue, lethargy, depression, cravings for sweets, sleep disturbances, irritability, and headaches. With no known cause, it is believed that SAD is tied to a lack of exposure to sunlight.

 The news comes out of Harvard and was heard at this year’s meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in Toronto, Ontario. Researchers discovered that high- carbohydrate drinks could actually dispel the symptoms of SAD. That’s right: just a simple carb beverage a day. The researchers used the cravings for sweets and carbs as a sort of launch pad into their work. They surmised that if someone drank the beverage a few times each day, he/she would get a solid helping of carbohydrates in a safe manner.

 Those carbs are known to increase the body’s production of both “serotonin” and “tryptophan,” chemicals that are known to relieve depression, moodiness, and sleep problems. (On that last note, you can draw a parallel to Thanksgiving, where turkey, which is high in tryptophan, tends to make you sleepy.) It is really the serotonin that is at work here against SAD though, as it regulates your sleep patterns and mood.

 In the study, 18 individuals with SAD drank a sweet drink, specially made with different kinds of carbohydrates, twice a day. All of them showed an improvement in their symptoms. This study is tied to the future, as the drink is not readily available to the public yet. However, if you consult your doctor, he/she may know how you can proceed medicinally with this kind of beverage.

 Some experts remain skeptical, as always. Some believe a high-carb drink isn’t a sustainable kind of treatment because although the additional carbs activate brain chemicals, there is an addictive pattern that forces the person to keep going back for more.

 Nonetheless, if you suffer from SAD, you could try this type of beverage and see if it changes your symptoms. Sports stores and health food stores may carry high- carbohydrate sports drinks, which are often used by athletes following vigorous exercise. They may come in the form of energy drinks, juices, or smoothies. Take your pick and see if drinking two glasses a day makes a difference.




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