Page 38

AUSTIN // HEALTH & WELLNESS

All the spectral colors that are found in sunlight have different healing effects. Painting: ‘RESURGENCE’ by Leanne Venier, Oil on Canvas

BEAT BACK THE WINTER BLUES Sunlight and color come to the rescue! By: LEANNE VENIER

HAVE YOU EVER TAKEN a tropical vacation during the middle of winter and noticed how wonderful the golden sunshine felt on your skin and how it immediately lifted your mood and spirits after so many weeks of being cooped up indoors under artificial lighting? Maybe, like many Americans nowadays, you spend most of your time indoors year-round, spending very little time under the sun because of horror stories you’ve heard about how the sun is bad for us. If you ever feel tired, moody, depressed or anxious, you’ll be happy to know that sunshine is not bad for us as we’ve been hearing for years, but science now proves that sunshine actually heals and helps prevent all sorts of illnesses including cancer, heart disease, depression and anxiety among many others. 36

NSIDE TEXAS MD / FEBRUARY 2015

It makes perfect sense, right? We humans evolved to live and thrive under sunshine, just like plants and other animals do. All of our physiological processes as well as our ability to feel good and happy are now known to be affected by very important hormones such as serotonin, melatonin and vitamin D—yes, vi-

tamin D is a hormone. These levels are positively influenced by exposure to sunlight. When any of these hormones are deficient, we are exponentially more likely to become ill, get cancer or become depressed and anxious. The World Health Organization has classified depression as the leading cause of disability worldwide and a major contributor to the global burden of disease with more than 350 million people of all ages suffering. The estimated costs to the American economy is about $44 billion annually, equal to the total cost of all cardiovascular diseases. Antidepressant medications are the top-selling group of pharmaceuticals in the world. Like other countries, the use of antidepressants in the US has soared. In 1998, 11.2 million Americans used these drugs. By 2010, it was 23.3 million. According to “A Glut of Antidepressants”, a 2013 article by the New York Times, “Over the past two decades, the use of antidepressants has skyrocketed. One in 10 Americans now takes an antidepressant medication; among women in their 40s and 50s, the figure is one in four.” Could this dramatic rise in depression and anxiety simply have to do with the dramatic increase in sunshine avoidance because of bad press the sun has received over the past several years? We’ve been led to believe that the sun is bad for us and causes cancer though just the opposite is true. It’s becoming well-known that vitamin D is a very important hormone for human health and for avoiding cancer and illness. Our bodies naturally produce and store vitamin D any time we get UVB exposure from sunlight. In the summer months, with regular, healthy sun exposure, i.e. no sunscreen and no sunburns, we build up our vitamin D levels and use these stores during the winter months when UVB levels are low. Now, research has also determined that low vitamin D levels can contribute to depression and anxiety but sunlight exposure and supplementation can dramatically help. Research has also shown that the “feel-good hormone”, serotonin, which tends to be very low in people suffering from depression, is directly influenced by exposure to sunlight with levels dropping off dramatically during periods of low exposure. According to the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience’s “How to Increase Serotonin in the Human Brain without Drugs”, “low serotonin may predispose healthy individuals to suboptimal physical as well as

“LIKE OTHER COUNTRIES, THE USE OF ANTIDEPRESSANTS IN THE US HAS SOARED. IN 1998, 11.2 MILLION AMERICANS USED THESE DRUGS. BY 2010, IT WAS 23.3 MILLION.”

Austin Texas MD February 2015  
Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you