It’s been a long, dark, cold, wet winter.  Are you feeling a little SAD?  This is a time of year when we can ALL be more prone to dips in our energy, moods and joy levels, so you’re definitely not alone.

  • Have you been finding it challenging to get a sound sleep?
  • Feeling grouchy and irritable, especially towards your loved ones?
  • Focusing exclusively on your “still to do” list, rather than celebrating all your accomplishments?
  • Do you find yourself feeling weepy for no good reason?
  • Noticing higher levels of anxiety, stress, tension, depression?
  • Suffering with mood-related problems, fibromyalgia, TMJ, bulimia, migraines?
  • Are you SAD*?

*Sad can of course be a normal emotion to experience when a loved one dies or you miss a big promotion.  But, SAD is short for Seasonal Affective Disorder, which means that you may be more “sad” or blue in the winter season.

What do all of these health challenges have in common?

Low serotonin

What is serotonin?

Everyone makes neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that allow messages to pass from one cell to the next and are essential for communication between cells.  Neurotransmitters deliver many messages affecting such things as mood, sleep, appetite, aggression, memory and alertness … to name just a few.  The two most important neurotransmitters affecting mood are norepinephrine and serotonin.

When your serotonin “tank” is full you are transmitting positive feelings and thoughts.  But when your serotonin tank is even 3/4 full these happy reactions are blocked.  The lower your tank the more troubles you will experience.

What causes low serotonin?

The 5 Biggest Enemies of Serotonin are:

1.      Caffeine

The number one enemy of serotonin is caffeine.  A totally healthy and balanced individual should be able to tolerate up to 16oz of coffee per day.  Everyone else should have less.  So, if you are suffering with any of the serotonin deficiency symptoms you should be weaning yourself down to no more than 8oz of coffee per day.  And that one cup of coffee should not be consumed any later than noon.  I also encourage any coffee consumption to be organic.

2.      Aspartame

Enemy number two is Aspartame (also known as NutraSweet).   Since I know this chemical to be extremely toxic, I am suggesting that you avoid it like the plague!

3.      Lack of Light

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is stimulated by light.  So when the dark days of winter approach, it can bring with it the dark days of low serotonin. Do your best to get out in the sunshine as often as you can.

4.      Stress 

One of the fastest ways to deplete your brain of serotonin is to constantly expose yourself to high-stress situations.  De-stressing is not my specialty; I am a recovering workaholic/perfectionist myself.  Lots of women turn to wine, but as much as I LOVE my wine, I would have to say that it is more serotonin depleting than it is serotonin building. We are all unique, so what helps one person de-stress doesn’t do anything for the next person.

You might like yoga or mediation.  Maybe a regular massage or a Jin Shin Do therapist would be of benefit to you.  Some women journal or take 20 minutes to soak in a hot bath each night.  Others have found the word “NO” very helpful.

What can you take off your plate to help yourself de-stress?

 5.      Nutritional Deficiencies

Like everything else in your body, serotonin is made up from the nutrients derived from your food.  Therefore you can’t make serotonin if you are lacking the specific fuel that your body needs to make serotonin (and of course other neurotransmitters). By supplying more of the right fuel, your body can make more serotonin.

Ideally your food would supply all the nutrients you need but mineral-depleted soils, processed foods and pesticides are just some of the factors that have diminished the nutritive quality of our food.  Nowadays, supplementation is the only option if you want to achieve optimal health.  Without optimal supplements, you may not get rickets or scurvy but you won’t be operating with a full tank.

Some of the key nutrients for raising serotonin are vitamin D, omega 3, magnesium, B complex vitamins, and vitamin C.  These nutrients and more are included in the Total Health Pack (Daily Essential Nutrients) which are available HERE.

What Else Can You Do?

If your serotonin tank is not full, you are not alone.  It is estimated that 80% of North Americans suffer with some degree of serotonin deficiency. But there is no need to be SAD or suffer with low moods at any time of the year.  There are nutritional regimes that can completely restore your serotonin and therefore your moods.

In 1990 I had the honor and pleasure of training with Priscila Slagle, MD who wrote the book “The Way Up From Down, Rid Yourself of Stress, Low Moods, Depression With This Easy-To-Follow Drug-Free Program of B Vitamins and Amino Acids”

That training changed my life and hundreds of others.  I successfully used her program as a foundation to restoring mood balance.  Over the years, as my studies and research continued, I was able to evolve her foundation into a more comprehensive program.

Originally, only my Inner Circle Members had access to my step-by-step nutritional program for balancing moods, but now that I have written an e-manual, it is available to anyone who is willing to approach their health using nutritional methods.

My e-manual “The Natural Way to Great Moods and Happiness” is available HERE.

The information made available in this article is provided for educational or reference purposes only. Nutritional Therapy and/or Coaching is not intended as a diagnosis, treatment, prescription, or cure for any disease, mental or physical, and is not intended as a substitute for regular medical care.

Copyright Brenda Eastwood and Megan Bocsik 2013 – Article Have You Ever Been SAD?

Would you like to use this article in your E-zine or website?  You may, as long as you include this complete write-up with it: Brenda Eastwood is a holistic health expert who specializes in Women’s Health Issues.  Her expertise stems from over 30 years’ experience as a Registered Nutritional Consulting Practitioner.  This includes ongoing research, 17 years running a successful private practice, presenting hundreds of seminars and workshops, as well as coaching clients through her unique online Inner Circle program. Today she is able to reach out to even more women through her regular article contributions to HANS (Health Action Magazine) and her book “Get off the PMS and Perimenopausal Roller Coaster, Learn 9 Natural Fast Track Solutions to Balanced Hormones”. For more information on Brenda Eastwood please visit or for information on her Total Health Packs visit