Many women suffer from seasonal disorders, depression, or anxiety. Seasonal Affective Disorders (SAD) is a form of depression that occurs around the same time every year, and for most, it is around the fall and winter months. SAD saps your energy, causes mood swings and diminishes levels of excitement, happiness and overall motivation. If this sounds familiar, you may be wondering what you can do to help the problem without relying solely on medication. Truth be told, diet can be a powerful tool in changing your mood and overall mental health. Here are 6 feel better foods to help you fight that seasonal slump.

1. Vitamin B-12 and Folic Acid: Although not foods, per say, vitamin B-12 and folic acid are essential vitamins in fighting depression symptoms.  Studies have shown that foods or meals high in these two compounds prevent central nervous system disorders and mood problems. Folic acid can be found in leafy greens and beans; vitamin B-12 in meats, fish and dairy products. Eggs, spinach, and salmon are all great sources of folic acid and vitamin B-12.

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2. Selenium: Selenium is a mineral with antioxidant-type properties.  Research has shown that 200 micrograms of selenium per day can decrease symptoms of depression.  Selenium is found naturally in whole grains, such as oatmeal and brown rice.  You can also find selenium in Brazil nuts and seafood, such as clams and oysters.

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3. Fish: We’ve heard it for years, but recent studies have further shown the effect of omega-3 fatty acids and lower levels of depression.  This is especially true of women suffering from postpartum depression. Some excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, tuna, and herring.

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4. Fruits and Vegetables: Depression can be linked to damage in the brain caused by free radicals.  Beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E can all combat damage done by free radicals. Fruit such as strawberries and blueberries are excellent sources of vitamin C, and carrots are a great way to get beta-carotene.  Nuts, seeds and wheat germ are sources of vitamin E.  One way to pack a punch is to whip up a fruit and veggie smoothie with some added wheat germ for breakfast – a great start for a happy day.

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5. Vitamin D: Vitamin D deficiency has been directly linked to depression, so getting adequate amounts of this nutrient is essential.  The most obvious source of vitamin D is the sun, but many women worry about sun protection, and therefore cover up, leading to vitamin D deficiencies.  Some other sources of vitamin D include cheese and egg yolks, so make yourself a yummy cheese omelet for breakfast and get your daily dose of this necessary nutrient.

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 6. Chocolate: Of course we saved the best for last – chocolate!  Dark chocolate affects your body’s endorphins, releasing feel-good chemicals within your brain.  A small piece of chocolate can be mood boosting and it has been shown to lower blood pressure.  So, go ahead and splurge with a bit of dark chocolate for dessert!

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