St Paul MN Chiropractor | Seasonal Affective Disorder
One of the most important nutrients for your mind and body speeds toward you at 186,000 miles per second from more than 93 million miles away. This nutrient is called sunlight. Most people don’t think of sunlight as a nutrient, but it is. Sunlight is necessary for regulating proper hormone function, calcium absorption, bone health as well as a normal daily sleep-wake cycle (circadian rhythm).
Seasonal depression (also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD) is also known as winter depression, or winter blues. Some people experience a serious mood change when the seasons change. They may sleep too much, have little energy, and may also feel depressed. Though symptoms can be severe, they usually clear up.
In fact, if you don’t get enough sunlight in your daily ‘light diet,’ you can suffer deficiency symptoms, such as:
- Poor quality of sleep
- A loss in work performance (especially in night-shift workers)
- Disrupted melatonin regulation
- Depressed cortical brain activity
- Depressed immune function
Get Some Sunshine
Unfortunately, the light to which most of us are exposed each day comes from man made sources, such as fluorescent, sodium and incandescent lights that do not produce full-spectrum sunlight. Numerous studies have shown that these limited-spectrum artificial light sources can make students irritable in school, reduce production among factory workers and make office workers sluggish. In one study, researchers even found that calcium absorption dropped off in the elderly who spent their days indoors during the winter, while those who spent time under full-spectrum lighting had an increase in calcium absorption.
Getting enough full-spectrum light can give your mood a tremendous boost. Light can help reduce stress, help you feel happier and improve your ability to concentrate.
To make sure that you are getting enough light in your diet, doctors recommend the following tips:
- Try to spend at least 15 minutes outside every day; even when it’s very cloudy. The full-spectrum daylight is still beneficial to your health.
- Begin using a light box during the fall and winter seasons, especially if you tend to get the winter blues.
- Stop wearing sunglasses as they create very unnatural light for your eyes. Sunglasses should only be worn when you need to protect your eyes from physical harm or very bright light.
- To maintain a healthy life style consider a regular visit to your Minnesota Chiropractor. They have a lot to offer in maintaining a healthy body and mind.
Once a person’s been diagnosed with SAD, doctors may recommend one of several treatments:
Increased Light Exposure. Because the symptoms of SAD are triggered by lack of exposure to light, and they tend to go away on their own when available light increases, treatment for SAD often involves increased exposure to light during winter months. For someone with mild symptoms, it may be enough to spend more time outside during the daylight hours, perhaps by exercising outdoors or taking a daily walk. Full spectrum (daylight) lightbulbs that fit in regular lamps can help bring a bit more daylight into your home in winter months and might help with mild symptoms.
Light Therapy. Stronger symptoms of SAD may be treated with light therapy (also called phototherapy). Light therapy involves the use of a special light that simulates daylight. A special light box or panel is placed on a tabletop or desk, and the person sits in front of the light for a short period of time every day (45 minutes a day or so, usually in the morning). The person should occasionally glance at the light (the light has to be absorbed through the retinas in order to work), but not stare into it for long periods. Symptoms tend to improve within a few days in some cases or within a few weeks in others. Generally, doctors recommend the use of light therapy until enough sunlight is available outdoors.
Like any medical treatment, light treatment should only be used under the supervision of a doctor.
In addition to the recommendations, your St Paul MN Chiropractor can help you improve your mood. They can give recommendations such as taking vitamin D3. They can help you determine if you suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder), and give recommendations of ways to naturally get more sunlight into your daily life.