Gray and dreary outside, feeling that way inside?
This time of year, the days are short and for those of us who live further north, that means it is dark when you start your day and dark again by the time you drive home at the end of the day. The change in season signals building snowmen, festive holiday lights, and skiing for some. For others, it can start to look pretty bleak.
One in ten Americans suffers from a recurring depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) for which their symptoms often start in late fall or early winter when the days are short, and go away in the spring when the days lengthen.
While it is not known what the exact cause of SAD is, the risk is much higher for people who live further from the equator, where the length of the days varies more greatly throughout the year. Women are three times more likely to develop SAD than men, and younger people are also at higher risk.
Light therapy, exposure to artificial UV lamps, is an effective treatment for people with SAD, improving symptoms by 50-80%. Despite the research, we’re unsure how sunlight improves the symptoms of SAD. At first, researchers thought that light therapy helped with melatonin metabolism; however, the subsequent investigation failed to support this. Now, some researchers have suggested that the increased vitamin D levels resulting from light therapy may be responsible for improved mood in people.
The “sunshine” vitamin is known to vary by season in people who live further away from the equator because they are not able to make vitamin D in the winter months from sunshine. The angle of the earth tilts and reduces the spectrum of sunlight such that the amount of ultraviolet (UV) B rays, which are responsible for vitamin D production in the skin, become scarce or unavailable during the day.
Treatments for SAD include light therapy, supplementation with vitamin D, psychotherapy, and medications (antidepressants).
A review of 15 randomized controlled trials, looked at the effect of vitamin D supplementation for depression. It found that vitamin D supplementation reduced depressive symptoms with an effect size that was comparable to that of anti-depressant medication.
Once again we find that maintaining vitamin D blood levels greater than 60 ng/ml is important for both mental and physical health.
Sculpt Wellness has multiple ways of meeting the need to support vitamin D and seasonal affective order support.
Our infrared saunas, red light therapy, BioCharger, Vitamin D booster shots, and cryotherapy are our go-tos. Start the conversation today with a Sculpt Wellness team member to review how to fit this in right now to boost your outlook, energy and mood.