Do You Have Seasonal Anxiety Depression?
Seasonal Anxiety Depression disorder is quite common in northern areas or areas that have limited sunlight. There is evidence to suggest that a Vitamin D deficiency brought on by lower sunlight exposure may be a contributing factor.
When 7-dehydrocholesterol reacts with UV rays, vitamin D is made. There was a study completed in 2010 that shows that those who are suffering from depression, and seasonal anxiety/depression in particular, were vitamin D deficient and noticed some improvement through supplementation. There is still some uncertainty, however, in how much vitamin D is needed to help improve mood.
This has many researchers asking which problem came first. Since depressed people are less likely to get outside and be active, their bodies are making less vitamin D than those that go outside more often. Could this lack of sunlight cause the vitamin D deficiency, which in turn causes the depression? Or conversely, is someone who has a vitamin D deficiency becoming depressed and further exaggerating the problem by not being outside? This is still the subject of ongoing studies to determine just how large a role vitamin D plays in depression.
Seasonal anxiety/depression makes a strong case for vitamin D deficiency being the culprit. Since this condition is much more prevalent in areas of low sunlight and seems to occur once someone has moved to those areas, a strong argument appears to be forming. As those suffering from depression are supplemented with the vitamin D and begin using special lights, they begin to feel better and become more active. This might not be the best course of action in all cases of depression, but certainly those that were previously happy go lucky and suddenly find themselves in a funk should be checked to make sure that their vitamin D is at normal levels.
Since seasonal anxiety/depression comes on in the winter months when there’s less sunlight, some sufferers have gone so far as to purchase a home in warmer sunnier climates to ride out the long dreary winter months. Although this might sound ideal, this isn’t financially possible for most of those who suffer. A more affordable alternative would be the addition of light therapy to encourage vitamin D production.
Opinions vary on how long and how often you need to use the lamp, but the general consensus is that it could take a minimum of 15 minutes up to an hour each day to feel the effects and the duration of the exposure seems to be determined by the individual seeking relief. It is also recommended that light therapy be done first thing in the morning upon waking. Those with retinal or ocular problems should not use light therapy until further studies are completed.
If you find yourself in a blue mood in the winter months you might be suffering from seasonal anxiety/depression. A good way to see if this is the case would be to begin light therapy to see if you see any benefit. Most who try it begin to notice a difference within a few days and become more active and thus minimize the effects of the depression.