Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder
Tips for avoiding the Winter blues
Winter is the season for an especially disabling form of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. SAD is characterized by sadness, fatigue and difficulty concentrating – as are many forms of depression. But SAD is not triggered by loss or conflicted thinking. Rather, SAD is brought on by a change in brain chemistry associated with insufficient sunlight.
Sunlight promotes health in our body and mind. It is intrinsically linked to sleep – the more bright sunshine you get in the morning, the better you will sleep at night. Sunshine connects with cholesterol in your skin to form Vitamin D. Good sleep and sufficient Vitamin D are associated with true wellness.
Is the sun our enemy?
Healthy levels of Vitamin D, deep sleep and a happy mood are all good for us. So it stands to reason that sunlight would be good for us too, right?
The dark side of light
Overexposure to the sun creates oxidative stress similar to radiation burns from a nuclear bomb. And why not? The sun itself is a huge nuclear furnace. This radiation burn will start a chain reaction in the melanocyte and other cells. This may lead to cancer in a year or two or in a decade or two. Oxidative stress from sunburn is insidious and relentless.
Where's the balance?
First, recognize the need for sun and the need for caution. Plan your sun exposure so that you maximize the benefits while minimizing the risks. For instance, get your sunlight early in the day. Early morning sunlight does not have the intense ultra-violet rays that midday sun does. So, take a 20-minute walk in the early part of the day with your skin exposed to sunlight. This will give you the benefits without the risks of overexposure.
Alternately, take a 20-minute walk in the evening with your skin exposed to sunlight. There are fewer UV rays in the evening than at midday, though more than in the morning. This will have a less dramatic effect than morning sun but will still provide you with many of the same benefits.
Never expose your skin to midday sun for long periods of time. Wear clothing that covers most of your skin and wear a hat that provides shade for your face and ears.
Light and other therapies
Nutrients have a role in recovery from SAD as well. For example, melatonin in the afternoon is helpful in relieving SAD. Other nutrients of interest are Vitamin B-12 and Vitamin D. All three nutrients are contained in TriVita's Bone Growth Factor, though most adults will need to take their B-12 sublingually to gain much benefit. Exercise produces chemicals in your brain called endorphins. These anti-depressant chemicals are built upon the amino acid l-Phenylalanine (LPA). LPA is contained in Energy Now!.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFA) and the adaptogen Rhodiola rosea are also useful in many forms of depression.
However, nothing is as important for relieving SAD as sunlight. For most of us, sunlight may be the difference between vitality and poor health – even between life and death! Get your sunlight, but be careful: too much of a good thing can always turn out bad.
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