Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) What are we really missing?
Studies may indicate that there’s more than a Vitamin D deficiency being linked to the winter “SADs”. The biological mechanisms that link Vitamin D to depressive symptoms are evident in multiple pathways where the vitamin plays a role in emotional balance, serotonin synthesis and stress response. This all makes perfect sense when it is often linked to low mood during winter. But studies haven’t found a particularly strong link. Low Vitamin D levels are common in people with depression, yet supplementation has not been shown to improve symptoms (1). However, this doesn’t mean the two aren’t connected. In likelihood, it just means that it isn’t the only cause. And those who have experienced depression or the winter blues would know that this is probably the case.
So, it’s important to remember the cooperation of many different factors that play a part in our health. Synergistic components are essential to balancing the body’s systems. I’ll give you an example - Total health cannot be achieved by a perfect diet but no exercise. And vice versa. But then again total health cannot be achieved by just a perfect diet and a well-designed exercise routine either. We need so much more than that - emotional support, family, friends, job satisfaction, hobbies, creativity, long walks on the beach and candle-lit dinners... or whatever floats your boat to keep you happy.
So, a lack of Vitamin D may just be that last factor involved in exposing an array of areas in your health (both physical and mental) that need some work. The vitamin also has an important role to play in our immune system as well, which could be another reason why we get ill during winter
I’d prefer to call winter’s Vitamin D deficiency ~ Significant (health) Advisement Days.
A clue to unlocking your winter health puzzle can be how we get Vitamin D naturally. Getting D from the sun means time outside - time spent digging your feet in the grass, dirt or sand. Spending time in nature isn’t hippy dippy stuff, it’s the natural habitat of humans. Being cooped up in buildings with air con, houses with closed windows and concrete jungles is not conducive with human health.
If you are finding that the weather adversely affects your mood (and even in sunny Queensland it is perfectly excusable) step back and take a look at how much time you spend outdoors. Bush-walk, lie in the grass, climb a mountain, smell the roses, hug a tree, visit the beach and soak up some winter rays. Find your way to connect with your natural environment.
1 Kerr, Zava, Piper, Saturn Frei & Gombart, (2015) Associations between vitamin levels and depressive symptoms in healthy young adult women. Psychiatry Research, 227 (46-51)