Don’t Be SAD

By: Peggy Willms 


(3 min. read)

“Run, Peggy, Run.” And that is just what I did. As soon as my sons graduated from high school, I left town. I left the state and headed to the Gulf Coast of Florida. Goal? Sun, water, palm trees, and no more Seasonal Affect Disorder, also known as SAD.

It was time to shed a bit of light on the fun-in-the-sun theory and see how much I could fill up my Vitamin D cup. My mental health needed a big gulp of Sunny Delight.

As the seasons change and winter casts its long shadows, many people experience a shift in mood and energy levels. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs at a specific time of year, typically during the fall and winter months when daylight hours are shorter. One potential factor that plays a significant role in developing SAD is the deficiency of Vitamin D, often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin.”

Vitamin D is a crucial nutrient that our bodies produce when exposed to sunlight. It plays a vital role in various bodily functions, including maintaining healthy bones, supporting the immune system, and regulating mood. During the dreary winter months, when sunlight exposure is limited, many people experience a decline in their Vitamin D levels. This deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of depression and mood disorders, including SAD. 

Research suggests that Vitamin D plays a role in regulating serotonin, a neurotransmitter that affects mood. Serotonin is often referred to as the “feel-good” hormone, as it helps regulate mood, sleep, and appetite. Low levels of serotonin have been associated with depression and mood disorders. Vitamin D deficiency may disrupt the production of serotonin, leading to an imbalance that contributes to symptoms of depression and SAD.

Several studies have explored the relationship between Vitamin D levels and the prevalence of SAD. Individuals with lower Vitamin D levels are more likely to experience symptoms of depression during the winter months. Additionally, regions with less sunlight exposure have higher rates of SAD, further highlighting the importance of sunlight and vitamin D in regulating mood and mental wellbeing.

Winter is not my friend, and it is beyond the fact that I hate temperatures lower than my age. I grew up in seasonal New England, lived in Germany for a spell, and raised my family in Colorado. These locations kept me away from regular exposure to the sun for several months of the year. So, I headed to Florida eight years ago.

I am not here to diagnose anyone, but I can tell you it is tough to be depressed when you wake up to the warm sunshine, green grass, and dancing in the breeze palm trees.

If you cannot move closer to sunshine, you could also try a SAD lamp. I used a Verilux light therapy lamp on my desk for years. It packed a punch of 10,000-lux light, which improved my mood, focus, and seemed to increase my energy levels. Mine had a USB charging port so I could charge my phone during your light therapy sessions.

But if you cannot change your geographic location and you suffer a bit from SAD, here are a few ways to boost your Vitamin D levels during the winter months:

– Get sunlight exposure when you can. Ten minutes has been shown to make significant improvements. Spend time outdoors during daylight hours, especially in the morning, to maximize exposure (wear sunscreen when necessary).

– Eat vitamin D-rich foods such as fatty fish, eggs, and fortified dairy products to increase your Vitamin D intake.

-Consider supplements. If you have difficulty obtaining enough Vitamin D from sunlight and food sources, talk to your healthcare provider about taking Vitamin D supplements.

By understanding the link between Vitamin D and SAD, we can take proactive steps to support our mental health and wellbeing, even when the days are shorter and the skies are gray.

A little sunshine – or Vitamin D – can go a long way in brightening your day. I am going to grab myself a little pocketful of sunshine.

Peggy Willms
All Things Wellness, LLC

The information provided is the opinion of the author. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice: diagnosis or treatment. The author, the business, All Things Wellness, LLC, and its owner Peggy Willms, are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information in this article or website. We assume no responsibility for tangible and intangible damages such as physical harm caused by using a product, loss of profits or loss of data, and defamatory comments. This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn from qualifying purchases.