Seasonal Affective Disorder

and Vitamin D



Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) was formally recognized by clinicians in the 1980s as a form of depression most commonly noticed in the winter. Research shows SAD to affect 4 to 6 percent of the general population with up to 75 percent of these individuals noted to be women. Experts relate SAD to a lack of sunlight alone, so with the onset of the winter months, days become shorter and people are exposed to less sunlight. With days becoming longer in early spring, symptoms of SAD subside. For instance, SAD occurs seven times more often in the cloudy state of Washington than in sunny Florida.

       Symptoms of SAD may include grumpiness, sadness, irritability, increased appetite, weight gain, feelings of tiredness and lack of concentration. Even though we do not know the exact cause of SAD, studies have shown depressive symptoms to be related to issues within our circadian rhythm, melatonin levels and hypothalamus. The circadian rhythm, or body clock, is known to be disrupted by lack of sunlight and may result in depression. The hormone melatonin affects sleep and mood. It is thought that the hypothalamus needs sunlight in order to stimulate the aspect of the brain which controls sleep, mood and appetite, as well as the production of serotonin. Those with SAD often have lower levels of serotonin.

       In 1999, researchers confirmed a direct link between exposure to sunlight and the production of vitamin D. In 2014, a research team, led by Alan Stewart, of the College of Education at the University of Georgia, published their findings in the journal Medical Hypotheses, which correlated taking a supplement of Vitamin D to decreased symptoms of SAD.

       Vitamin D production occurs when the ultraviolet rays in sunlight strike the skin. Some foods, such as the flesh of fatty fish (salmon, tuna and mackerel) and fish liver oils contain a fair amount of vitamin D. In the U.S., fortified foods such as milk provide a good source of dietary vitamin D. Vitamin D has been shown to be required for a variety of healthy body functions, and lately has been a topic of interest in the treatment of SAD. A blood test is used to determine the level of vitamin D in the body.

       Vitamin D supplementation in the form of D3 has been demonstrated to be effective in the treatment of SAD. Depending on a person’s lab values and symptoms, doses can range from 1,000 to 10,000 international units (IUs). Supplements are readily available and inexpensive. If an individual exhibits feelings of being down, irritable, moody or has trouble sleeping, they may have SAD. Their healthcare provider can check the vitamin D level and prescribe the recommended supplementation as needed.

Dr. Leta M. Vaughan, DNP, CNM, is a nurse practitioner with WomancarePC, which offers vitamin D testing, the Myriad myRisk Hereditary cancer test, and other screenings and lab panels. For an appointment, call 847-221-4800 or visit WomanCarePC.com.

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More from Natural Awakenings

Three Ways to Improve

More women are thinking about starting families later in life and have difficulty conceiving. Many commonly heard reasons for infertility include extended use of birth control, advanced age, a hormone imbalance, stress and others.

PSYCHOTRONICS

Our minds are very powerful, and we can we direct our intention to make nourishing change, assist sick animals or persons or improve agricultural crop yields. However, most of us are not using our full capabilities to manifest positive effects in the world.

Top Tips

We know it’s coming, yet we still get caught in the feeling of overwhelm at the end of the school year. Too many things are going on at once—sporting events, dance and music recitals, Memorial Day celebrations, graduations and preparing for camp or vacation.

TIPS FOR TREATING DRY SKIN

As we age, our oil glands produce less oil, causing our skin to become drier, which can lead to wrinkles and sagging. Other factors, including genetics, diet, lifestyle, sun exposure and smoking can affect how our skin changes as we age.

Food Allergies:

Food allergies have become a growing public health and safety issue, with reactions to peanuts and tree nuts doubling in the past decade. True food allergies affect 15 million Americans, including 6 million children, with one in six at significant risk of anaphylaxis.

Add your comment:
Edit ModuleShow Tags

See More »This Month

Former Navy Commander Giesemann to Speak at Evanston Hospital

Chicago IANDS will host former U.S. Navy Commander Suzanne Giesemann at 2 p.m., February 10, in the Frank Auditorium at Evanston Hospital.

Top-Ranked Women’s Herbal Conference

The seventh annual Midwest Women’s Herbal Conference will be held from June 1 to 3 in Almond, Wisconsin, and registration is now open.

Celebrate the New Year with Edgar Cayce

From 6:30 to 9 p.m., February 5, and the first Monday of each month, the Edgar Cayce Holistic Center will be offering expanded services.

Eat, Learn, Connect, Repeat at the Good Food Festival

As part of FamilyFarmed’s 14th annual Good Food EXPO, the Good Food Festival returns March 24 to celebrate food that is local, sustainable, humane and fair.

Letter from The Publisher

February is in so many ways an in-between month when we transition from the depths of winter to, “Hey, it’s almost spring!” It can test our spirits and our resiliency, but it can also make our hearts sing with the delightful signs of the coming warmer days.

HOLISTIC STRATEGIES

Starting a family can be an exciting time, but for couples that are having trouble conceiving it can be incredibly challenging and stressful. Diana Zic is a health and wellness coach specializing in fertility health, a registered yoga teacher and registered prenatal yoga teacher.