Depressed in the Summer? Eat More Blueberries!
Rockabilly Eddie Cochran wasn’t kidding.
“Summertime Blues” is very much a real issue for many peeps despite the warm weather, sun shining and thriving flora all around us.
That being said, when Eddie proclaimed “there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues” back in 1958, he obviously didn’t know about the mood-boosting benefits of blueberries. And helloooo! Added bonus that they’re also in season!
Cue the 1940 Fats Domino hit single “Blueberry Hill!"
What a positive treat this post is–for not only those suffering from summertime sadness–but all my baby boomer readers (and mom) who are loving this trip down memory lane. 😉
Or in my case, a traumatizing trip back to “50s night” when I worked on the cruise ship…
Whatever, you know you wanna hand jive with me!
Summer Blues? Eat Blueberries!
Did you know that a vegan diet, and more specifically blueberry consumption, can actually help alleviate summertime depression?
Summertime depression: What is it?
Yes, feeling down in the summertime is a common, real, and treatable experience.
We often hear about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and feeling sad in the cold, dark months of winter and we rarely, if ever, hear about summertime sadness.
Summertime blues, or Reverse Type Seasonal Affective Disorder (RTSAD), occurs when people experience depression during the summer.
Why do we get depressed in the summertime?
There are very few direct neurological investigations of SAD and even fewer on its Reverse Type, seasonal summer depression.
From what is known, reduced levels of serotonin, which is one of our main feel good neurotransmitters in the brain, appear to play a key roll.
Where environmental factors such as decreased light may influence SAD in the winter, factors such as increased temperature may influence decreased serotonin levels in the summer.
Cultural factors may influence brain chemistry as well, such as:
- Feeling pressure to be active and socialize during extra long days
- Expectations to wear small, body-exposing clothing which can heighten body consciousness and discomfort
- The urge to isolate oneself from what can feel like a world of endless baseball games, beach trips and long evening BBQs can be strong
So how do we treat the summertime blues?
Clinical depressions are typically treated with psychotherapy, tricyclic antidepressants, lithium, neuroleptics, electroconvulsive therapy and/or hospitalization.
But there is another way.
Managing and stabilizing mood is possible through diet and specifically targeting serotonin boosting nutrients may help alleviate some of the symptoms of summertime depression.
Blueberries boost serotonin levels naturally!
Blueberries are a high anti-oxidant, meaning they help our bodies alleviate oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when our level of internal toxins, such as free radicals, exceeds our body’s capacity to provide protective defense.
Oxidative stress and damage has been linked to a whole host of harmful conditions including depression, cardiovascular disease, pre-mature aging, and even cancer. Blueberries are a high anti-oxidant, meaning they literally clean up toxic residue from our bodies, such as free radicals.
A diet rich in antioxidants (blueberries) can lower the rate of all-causes and cause-specific mortality by more than 50% (Knoops et al 2004) including depression.
For someone experiencing Reverse Seasonal Affective Depression, summertime can be a nightmare to get through until the welcome chill of autumn lets us pull out our body covering clothing and tuck in early during the dim cool evenings.
- Eat your blueberries! Make sure to buy organic blueberries as conventional ones are one of the worst berries for growers’ use of toxic spays.
- Keep moving. Feel free to use your indoor machine (or whatever you like to do) instead of going on the group bike ride.
- Hibernate if you want to. Guilt-free, full universal permission granted to stay inside and watch Netflix, regardless of the sunny beautiful day that pressures you to “get outside and go do something!”
- Bake with Samantha. Make her low-cal AND high protein Vanilla Blueberry Cheesecake Bites! They’re medicinal! 😉
And finally, know that you are not alone. Autumn is just around the corner and your beloved turtleneck awaits. 😉