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Does vitamin D help with seasonal affective disorder?

The dark days of winter do not only yield to freezing temperatures. For some, this is also the time of year when seasonal affective disorder – or even winter blues episodes – can disrupt their daily lives, leaving them in search of a solution.

Vitamin D is a popular method of treating TAS, which most people naturally take from their diet and especially from sunlight (something that is clearly lacking in winter). Vitamin D may be thought to help manage the debilitating symptoms of poor mental health, including lack of motivation, changes in sleep patterns, increased irritability and sadness.

But is it really really job? According to the experts, we can not say that this is the case. Vitamin D "its potential role in mental health symptoms has been explored with mixed results," said Shari Harding, a nurse professor at Regis College Massachusetts and an expert on SAD.

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There is a debate about whether vitamin D alone really helps combat seasonal affective disorder.

A very small study published in 1999 indicated that SAD can occur when storage of vitamin D in the body is low. He found that the vitamin could possibly be helpful in treating the symptoms of the disease, but noted that additional research was needed.

A 2014 study published in the journal Medical hypotheses suggest that a low vitamin D content could contribute to the development of SAD. The authors of the study said that vitamin D may play a role in the production of serotonin and dopamine, the "happy chemicals" in the brain, often low in cases of depression. However, another study published in 2014 by Danish researchers found that vitamin D supplementation did not directly improve symptoms of SAD.

A meta-analysis published in 2018 also revealed a correlation between lower levels of vitamin D and depression, the BBC reported, but that does not necessarily mean cause of the disease. This simply indicates that both existed at the same time. (As a symptom of depression is weaning, it's possible that people with the disease have not gone out enough to get normal amounts of vitamin D, the BBC said.)

Since TAS is a complex disease, experts can not attribute it to a lack of vitamin D alone. Mental health disorders usually develop because of the environment, circumstances, physiology or mental health. a combination of these factors.

"There is evidence that some depressed people may also be suffering from vitamin D deficiency, but the role that this deficiency plays in depressive symptoms is not clear."

– Shari Harding, SAD expert

"There is evidence that some people with depression may also be suffering from a vitamin D deficiency, but the role that this deficiency plays in depressive symptoms is not clear," Harding said. "Many factors affect the symptoms of depression. The best evidence so far is that your vitamin D level is checked by a health care provider. "

You are usually able to get the recommended levels of vitamin D – which is good for bone health – in your daily life, said Harding. This includes exposure to the sun and the consumption of foods and drinks containing vitamin D, such as milk, cereals and salmon.

"People who live in darker climates may not have enough vitamin D without supplementation, but vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, so it is possible to over-supplement and reach levels. toxic, "said Harding. "The best way to approach vitamin D is to have your level checked, and then discuss with a health care provider the best plan for you."

Experts know that SAD can be exacerbated by a lack of light. This is why it is more common in the more northern parts of the United States, where there is less sun in winter. Those who experience the winter blues or the TAS have had some success in reducing its effects with light therapy – exposure to artificial light via a device imitating what you receive outside. Light therapy is "supposed to affect brain chemicals related to mood and sleep, thereby easing the symptoms of SAD," according to the Mayo Clinic.

"The best way to approach vitamin D is to have your level checked, and then discuss with a health care provider the best plan for you."

– Harding

At the end of the day, if you have mental health problems – at any time of the year – it's important to recognize that and say it honestly. Some warning signs include difficulty performing normal tasks, dropping social activities, mood or behavior changes, and disruptions in eating or sleeping patterns. These are all particularly alarming if they interfere with your daily life.

"The most important thing to know about the CAS is that you should not underestimate its severity or impact. It's a type of depression, "said Harding. "People who think they have SAD should definitely seek treatment and not rely solely on lifestyle changes to manage their symptoms. Untreated or under-treated depression can cause serious problems, but sometimes people are reluctant to seek treatment. "

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