Bananas: A Natural Remedy For Seasonal Mood Swings

  • Miranda Platt BSc Applied Medical Sciences, MSc Global Health and Development


It is that time of the year again; the days get shorter, the sky gets cloudier, and the sun doesn’t shine as often or as brightly. As the season transitions from Summer to Autumn in the northern hemisphere, many people start feeling alterations in their mood and general feelings of well-being. This is what we know as seasonal mood swings, “winter blues,” or, in severe cases, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which can negatively affect their quality of life and livelihood. What if I told you that something that’s probably already in your kitchen may help ease symptoms?

What is seasonal affective disorder?

SAD is a variation of mood disorders that have a seasonal pattern, with the winter type being the most common. People who experience winter-type SAD experience symptoms of depressed mood beginning at the start of Autumn or winter and recover eventually in spring and summer.

We don’t know what causes this exactly, but the theory goes that seasonal changes in daylight affect the synchrony between the day-night cycle and the biological clock. 

Those assigned female at birth (AFAB), people who live in northern countries, and shift workers with limited sunlight exposure are the most likely to experience this, with a general population prevalence of 1%-10%.

How can bananas help?

Bananas are a great source of fibre, vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, manganese, and other nutrients.

Many of the nutrients that bananas contain can help either directly or indirectly to enhance mood and alleviate the symptoms that accompany a depressed mood, like sleep disturbances and fatigue.

Key mood-enhancing nutrients in bananas

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) 

Vitamin B6 is water soluble, which means that it dissolves in water. The active form helps more than 100 enzymes perform their normal functions in the human body. Among these are functions that help to metabolise proteins, carbohydrates, and fats and maintain normal levels of homocysteine, which can indirectly aid brain function since scientific evidence links increased levels of this protein with an increased incidence of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and cognitive decline.


This nutrient performs a key role in aiding more than 300 enzymes to facilitate diverse chemical reactions throughout the body, ranging from protein and bone building, to maintaining blood sugar, blood pressure, and normal muscle and nerve operations. Magnesium also maintains electrical conduction that contracts muscles and maintains a steady heartbeat.

Magnesium plays a key role in the normal functioning of many body parts: the heart, bones, muscles, and nerves, among others. Without enough magnesium, these 0rgans do not function properly. Although some studies associate magnesium-rich diets with decreased rates of disease, clinical trials show mixed findings about providing magnesium through supplementation A magnesium supplement provides magnesium alone as opposed to in a high-magnesium diet which is often higher in other nutrients as well that work together and aid each other. Magnesium also plays an integral role in the process of activating vitamin D in the body, which in itself plays key roles in several important body functions.


Potassium is an essential nutrient that plays a key role in various tissues all over the body. This includes different cell and nerve vital processes. 


Unripe bananas contain resistant starch (prebiotic), which the bacteria in our guts (probiotics) can use as food. These good gut bacteria aid in digestion and influence immunity, brain health, and more.


Bananas also contain tryptophan-an amino acid the body uses to produce:    

1) Serotonin - a neurotransmitter that affects mood, sleep, appetite, and pain. 

2) Melatonin - a hormone that helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle.

Therefore, tryptophan affects important aspects and manifestations that accompany seasonal mood swings.

Bananas are practical!

The beautiful thing about bananas is that they are readily available and easy to consume. They don’t require much preparation, and you can carry them with you to work or to the gym. You can have them alone, with your morning coffee, or incorporate them in a delicious smoothie to add reasonable sweetness and satisfying thickness.

People with seasonal mood swings can present with a variety of different symptoms, and it can affect many aspects of their lives. They can experience changes in their appetite, sleep, focus, mood, and activity levels.

Is there anything else I can do?

We mentioned the specific nutritional benefits that bananas offer, and this clearly shows how they can be a multi-benefit food that can directly benefit mood and also indirectly address more than one symptom that accompanies seasonal mood swings. Tryptophan, magnesium, and potassium can help with relaxation and better sleep. Magnesium, iron, and B6 can help with fatigue and tiredness. As with any other health challenge, we want to try as many strategies as possible, so in addition to incorporating bananas in our diet when appropriate, there are multiple strategies and actions we can take to help tackle this challenge. These include but are not limited to:


Make sure you get enough sunlight, especially within the first 30 minutes after you wake up. This can help improve mood and can help regulate the natural wake-sleep cycle. In areas where this might be difficult or not possible, people can use SAD lamps, which are specific lights that mimic natural sunlight.

Stay physically active

Choosing an age and health-appropriate physical activity that incorporates aerobic, mobility, and strength training can help enhance mood. Make sure to consult a personal trainer or a qualified physician to tailor your program appropriately.

Manage stress 

Stress is an inevitable part of life. You can’t have a stress-free life, but you can do certain things to help you manage life stresses and keep them from taking over. Examples include journaling, talking to a trusted person, relaxation techniques and spiritual activities like praying and mindfulness.

Maintain a well-rounded, healthy diet:

  • Limit processed foods. 
  • Get enough high-quality omega-3 fatty acids, either through diet or, supplementation. When taking supplements, make sure that you buy a well-known, high-quality brand with adequate concentration.
  • Avoid trans fats, limit saturated fats, and substitute them for healthy fats, like the ones you can find in olive oil and avocados. 
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Avoid added sugar.
  • Avoid sugary and carbonated drinks.
  • Drink enough water.
  • Limit salt intake.

Maintain good sleep Hygiene

Make sure you get enough quality sleep every night. Bananas can help with this. Stay away from bright lights and bright screens, and avoid heavy meals before bedtime. Maintain a comfortable bedroom temperature.

Seek professional help

Always remember to seek professional help when needed. Talking to a psychiatrist or therapist is sometimes essential and can help you navigate through psychologically challenging times. They can help you through multiple means, like using specific therapy methods, counselling, and even medications when necessary.

Can I eat too many bananas?

Bananas are a great fruit and can help with seasonal mood swings, but in some cases, we need to be mindful about how many bananas we consume, as there might be too much of a good thing.

One medium banana contains about 375 mg of potassium. That's about 10% to 15%  of the recommended daily amount for person. This sounds great, yet certain people need to keep that in mind when they consume bananas. For example, people with moderate to severe chronic kidney disease tend to have increased potassium levels, and their bodies will have a difficult time getting rid of any excess amounts of it.

People who take certain medications, like a type of water pill called (potassium-sparing diuretics), and a group of blood pressure medications which tend to increase potassium blood levels -like Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Inhibitors and Angiotensin Receptor Blockers- should always check with their physician or pharmacist on drug-drug and drug-food interactions for their medications.

A medium banana contains about 26 g of carbohydrates and about 115 calories, which are facts that diabetic people and people who need to watch their weight need to take into consideration.


We need to do our best to maintain our mental health. Usually, that requires a holistic approach that involves our psychology, environment, exercise, diet, and all other aspects of a healthy lifestyle.

While bananas may not be the be-all cure or the silver bullet for seasonal mood swings, they are a readily available, practical, and relatively safe solution that we can incorporate into our efforts to manage some of the challenging symptoms of seasonal mood swings.

There are many easy ways to incorporate bananas into your diet.

Through their impressive nutritional profile, they can be an integral part of a healthy diet and an overall healthy lifestyle.

People who have certain health conditions where they need to watch their potassium and/or sugar intake or take certain groups of medications have to be mindful about how many bananas to consume and should consult a healthcare professional or a dietitian when needed.


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This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Khaled Al Musa

MSc. Clinical Pharmacy, BCPS, Amman, Jordan

Khaled is a clinical pharmacist with extensive healthcare experience, having served in different roles in hospital and community sectors in different countries. He is board certified as a pharmacotherapy specialist by the American College of Clinical Pharmacy.

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