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Holiday Blues? You Might Have SAD

Have the Holiday Blues? You Might Be a "SAD" Sufferer

SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder is often overlooked in sunny Colorado. As hours of sunshine plummet toward their low on the winter solstice next week, Vitamin D production comes to a screeching halt. In cities at the latitude of Denver and farther north, it's impossible to get Vitamin D from sunshine from roughly late September until late March, depending on the altitude.

This translates into low mood, thyroid difficulties, and immune system weakness in many people, especially since most of us don't live and work outside anymore. This is made worse by the relative overuse of sunscreens these days.

Here are a few helpful hints for coping with the dark days of winter:

  1. Exercise or at least take a 15-30 minute stroll outside during daylight hours. This helps keep your circadian rhythm going, which is crucial for proper brain neurotransmitter production. If outdoor light is not an option for you (i.e. you live in Alaska or Maine), a light box is very helpful for some people. Melatonin taken before bed helps many others.
  2. Give yourself permission to hibernate at least a little. In days before electric lights, people routinely slept 9-12 hours per night during the winter. This helps recharge the internal "batteries" or adrenals for the busy lifestyle most of us lead.
  3. If reasonable measures like those listed above don't help, you may benefit from having your adrenals, thyroid, and Vitamin D levels tested.
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