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Natural Awakenings Washington DC Metro

Beating the Winter Blues

Dec 31, 2016 09:53PM
by Benjamin Bregman
As the days get shorter and colder, people often report that they feel more “blue” than usual.  Though sadness is a normal part of the human experience, especially during difficult times, if a person’s low mood or lack of pleasure lasts longer and goes deeper than seems “normal,” this might indicate something more serious that should be evaluated by a professional.

The typical psychiatric approach to these concerns frequently starts and ends with symptom reduction through medication.  Though not without its merits, this strategy often overlooks the causes of depression.

A functional psychiatry approach to addressing these conditions starts with understanding what might be causing the symptoms in the first place.  Not getting enough sunlight or the dietary nutrients and minerals, all too common for most people, can be a good place to look for causes. Environmental exposures such as mold, toxins and food sensitivities can also be connected to depression and anxiety.  Emotional stressors, toxic in their own right, can also contribute to both short-term blues and long-term depression.

After identifying the specific factors, through a clinical interview and testing, the functional psychiatry approach tailors a specific treatment plan that fits the individual’s unique profile. Depending on the causes of a person’s symptoms, treatment can consist of dietary modifications, nutritional supplementation, photo-therapy, a detoxification regimen for environmental toxins, psychotherapy and, if deemed appropriate medication.

This “whole person” approach to mental health care is not only helpful in relieving negative symptoms but also helps them reach their full potential at home, at work and in the rest of their lives.

Benjamin Bregman, M.D., practices integrative psychiatry at GW Center for Integrative Medicine. To contact him, call 202-833-5055 or visit



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