Seasonal depression: what is it and how can medicinal mushrooms help

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The dark days are coming again and some people are looking forward to them. Cozy up the candles and eat stew again. But you may well become gloomy and even depressed when it gets cold and inclement. If you get these symptoms at the same time every year, you could have seasonal depression and possibly medicinal mushrooms can help.

What is seasonal depression?

Seasonal depression is a recognized disorder. It is a form of depression and most people suffer from it in winter. In that case, it is winter depression. It’s a little different than being gloomy once because of all the rain and cold. The symptoms of seasonal depression begin in September or October and persist throughout the winter. Usually the symptoms disappear in March or April when the days get longer again.

The symptoms of seasonal depression are:

  • Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Gloom
  • Feeling slow and sluggish
  • Weight gain due to increased appetite
  • Lots of sleeping and difficulty getting up in the morning
  • Irritability
  • Tendency to withdraw

Although winter depression often goes away on its own when spring arrives, it is not something to be ignored. You can suffer greatly from it, and it can greatly hinder your mental and emotional functioning.

The causes of seasonal depression

It is not yet clear exactly what causes winter depression. It seems obvious that the shorter days and longer periods of darkness have to do with it. As a result, you are less exposed to sunlight.

When there is less sunlight, our internal clock gets disrupted. This normally indicates when we can be active and when it is time to sleep. Under the influence of sunlight, our bodies produce serotonin. This neurotransmitter has a positive influence on mood, helps us, feel calm and is necessary for good concentration.

And when it’s dark, more melatonin is produced. This little substance helps us feel sleepy. Some people are very sensitive to the lower levels of serotonin that can occur when we have less exposure to sunlight. Their day and night rhythms become disturbed as a result, making them uncomfortable and emotionally unbalanced. So then you suffer from winter depression. But fortunately, seasonal depression is treatable, even with natural remedies such as medicinal mushrooms.

Natural treatment of seasonal depression with medicinal mushrooms

If you are seeking treatment for seasonal depression, there are natural ways to address the symptoms. Medicinal mushrooms have been used for centuries because of their positive effects on health. There are also mushrooms that can help with seasonal depression. Below we discuss three of them. You can purchase all three types of mushrooms in our webshop.

Reishi

Reishi is used by many people because of its calming effects, which can come in handy for stress, anxiety, depression and sleep problems. Also, this mushroom has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. A link has been found between low-grade inflammation and depression. Hence, Reishi may be a good choice in this condition.

Furthermore, Reishi (purchased as powder, capsules or extract) contains a high content of triterpenes. These also have a calming effect. Depression often accompanies sleep problems. When you take Reishi, it can help you sleep deeper and relax better. This mushroom is an adaptogen, meaning it helps balance the body and mind. When stressed, it helps calm down and when tired, it actually energizes.

Lion’s mane (Wig mushroom)

Lion’s Mane is also one of the medicinal mushrooms that can be used for seasonal depression. A study on the effectiveness of Lion’s Mane for depression was published in the Journal of Molecular Science. This mushroom can help stimulate the production of certain neurotransmitters. It also inhibits inflammation and inhibits the loss of nerve growth caused by stress.

Research seems to indicate that people with major depressive disorder, have lower levels of NGF (nerve growth factor). NGF is needed for nerve cells to specialize, grow and keep them healthy. This is also very important in regulating mood. There are several studies indicating that Lion’s Mane may stimulate NGF production. Lion’s Mane is available as capsules or extract.

Cordyceps

For seasonal depression, Cordyceps is also a good choice. This mushroom is very popular in Asia and is widely used to support brain health. It has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and can help you become more resilient to stress. Cordyceps is also an adaptogen, which can help bring calmness to stress and anxiety. You can use Cordyceps as powder, capsules or extract.

Light therapy

In addition to mushrooms, you can also support your mental health with light therapy. This is easy to do because you can just apply this at home. You do need a powerful lamp specifically for light therapy (a daylight lamp). This bright light, of at least 10,000 lux, contains all light frequencies. In the morning, when you have just gotten up, put the lamp right in front of you and sit in the light for 15 to 30 minutes. Do this daily from September until March or April. Then it is most effective.

You can have very troublesome seasonal depression. It’s really no less annoying than normal depression because you rebound in the spring. Nor is it an affectation. Don’t keep going on with your symptoms, but seek help. By getting started yourself (for example, with medicinal mushrooms) or by making an appointment with your doctor.

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