Mid January is, notoriously, the time of year when people (well, those in the northern hemisphere anyhow) feel most depressed. I think that last Monday is the peak (or trough) depression day but the whole month is pretty grim. Not surprising really – the weather is cold and grey, you’ve got no money and you are over-weight after a Christmas spurge, the nights are long and dark, the days short, and it seems a very, very long time before there is a chance of even a bank holiday, let alone a proper holiday or some sun. So depressed seems like a reasonable way to feel.
Having a serious illness, or an intolerance or sensitivity that prevents you going places or eating nice food, or a child with a possibly life threatening allergy who has to be guarded 24/7, all also seem like good reasons to feel depressed. But, as Ruth Holroyd points out in her very interesting blog at What Allergy? there can be a far closer link between allergy and depression than the purely circumstantial.
Some years ago we ran several months of correspondence in the Foods Matter magazine in which readers described how an intolerance, to wheat in particular, could dramatically change their mood from perfectly cheerful to near suicidally depressed. The suggestion is that foods can can change the biochemical balance within the body, thus triggering quite dramatic mood swings.
To investigate this further, do read Ruth’s blog and follow the links she provides. You will also find a number of fascinating articles in the Food/nutrition/mood section of the Foodsmatter site – including, in the research section, one report suggesting that chocolate is the ideal way to reduce your stress levels while warding off Alzheimer’s and a heart attack…. Another riveting read is Dr Katherine Desmaisons’ book, Potatoes not Prozac, first published in 1998, in which she charts her own dramatic mental/mood reactions to sugar and carbohydrates.
And in that context you might also want to start looking at some of the mountains of research connecting vitamin D deficiency with a range of mental illnesses including depression. For more on this see the Vitamin D Council’s website and, relating it to a real January illness, SAD or Seasonally Affected Disorder, an article by Dr Damien Downing on Vitamin D as an alternative treatment for SAD.
So – enough – and on to a far less depressing subject (well, at least for those who enjoy freefrom food): the growth in the availability of freefrom ready meals! More very soon…