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Sunbeds and Seasonal Affective Disorder

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Seasonal Affective Disorder is usually known by the acronym S.A.D. and it is a mood disorder caused by a change in the season. People who suffer from S.A.D. will have fine mental health throughout the rest of the year, but are stricken with depressive symptoms during a specific time of the year. Most people experience these symptoms in wintertime, as the short days, lack of sunlight, cold weather, and dreary grey skies contribute to their overall sense of depression. These people will experience symptoms in the wintertime such as difficulty waking up in the morning, a tendency to oversleep and over eat, a lack of energy, difficulty concentrating, and withdrawal from social situations, depression, weight gain, and feelings of hopelessness.

Treatments for SAD

However, there are many ways to treat the symptoms of winter S.A.D. which include light therapy, melatonin hormone supplements, and the use of a sunbed. It is believed that seasonal variations in mood are related to light, and SAD is much more present in people living in the high latitudes of the Arctic region such as in Finland. Many studies have shown that the mood of someone with SAD can be improved by exercise and outdoor activity, particularly on sunny days. The increased solar exposure helps to treat the symptoms of the disorder. Some scientists believe that SAD is caused by low levels of vitamin D, which is released in the body only when your skin is exposed to ultraviolet light.

Natural sunlight is the best way for the body to manufacture Vitamin D. However, in the United Kingdom the winters are cloudy and overcast and the sun is only strong enough to encourage vitamin D production during the months from May to October. During the autumn and winter months the sun just doesn’t shine bright enough to give us the vitamin D that we need. Perhaps this is why there are so many sunbeds in the UK? Many people use sunbeds in the UK during the dark and dreary winter season. Also, during the winter we spend a lot of time indoors because the weather is wet and cold. The more time you spend indoors during the daylight hours, the less opportunity that you will have to make vitamin D.

Sunbeds Increase Levels of Vitamin D

Studies have shown that people who use sunbeds have a much lower chance of suffering from a vitamin D deficiency. A study was conducted by Scientists at Boston University School of Medicine, and they tested 50 people who used a sunbed regularly and 100 people who did not use them. They underwent blood tests and bone scans to test for their levels of vitamin D and other important vitamins and minerals. The results found that while 42% of the people who did not use sunbeds were suffering from a deficiency of vitamin D, only 8% of the sunbed users were deficient. The scans also showed that the sunbed users had higher bone mass than the non-sunbed users.

Although sunbeds are not the only treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder, many people have found that the UV light exposure helps to treat their symptoms. Even if you don’t suffer from full-blown SAD, you will find that moderate sunbed use increases your levels of vitamin D and gives you an overall sense of happiness and wellbeing.