Picture this – you wake up for work while it is still dark outside, you make your commute during the dawn light, then you get to work where you are sitting at a desk under fluorescent lights…
The time you spend outside is mostly cloudy and grey. It’s winter. You start becoming more and more disturbed by things that wouldn’t normally disturb you. You are feeling very emotionally unstable or even depressed. Maybe you cry. And above all, you don’t understand why.
I’ll tell you why, Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD for short.
This is a common scenario for up to half the people in the UK come winter time (according to the Independent). Women are 40 times more likely than men to experience SAD. A small amount of people suffer from severe depression, while more people experience less intense symptoms.
These symptoms range from fatigue and anxiety to sadness.
I have found myself in this scenario while living in Czech Republic one winter. That was one of the darkest winters I’ve ever experienced. Sunlight hours were short, 8 hours at the winter solstice. Even when it was light outside I did not want to leave the warmth of my apartment, as it was cold, grey, and windy outside.
So inside I sat, feeling sad, upset, and crying sometimes for what seemed like no reason at all. Then it hit me, I’m not getting any Vitamin D from the sun! I rushed to the pharmacy and almost immediately felt better with a large dose of D3.
I had been experiencing what is called SAD
How do you know if you are one of the people who is affected by SAD? If you notice feelings of being sad or more irritable, fatigue or anxiety and do so more than when you are not getting any exposure to sunlight (such as during winter), it is a good idea to go see your doctor.
Blood tests can be done to check your vitamin D levels. Low vitamin D levels are associated with feelings of sadness and depression, fatigue, and conditions such as heart disease, bone loss, and certain cancers. As this paragraph illustrates, it’s very important for health.
Vitamin D is produced on our skin as a response to sunlight hitting the bare skin. It is then absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream over time (as long as our skin is not washed). It is recommended when you get sun on your bare skin, to allow around 30 minutes for the Vitamin D to be produced and absorb into your bloodstream.
Doctors recommend full spectrum light therapy for SAD.
This is a machine that you can sit under in the comfort of your own home, so that you can produce Vitamin D on your skin. Another way to help reduce SAD is to take a Vitamin D3 supplement. It is important to also take vitamin K2 and magnesium with Vitamin D3, as they are important cofactors.
Lastly, getting outside whenever the sun is out can certainly help combat the winter blues.
Connect here with WatchFit Expert Kristin Shay