The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Battling seasonal depression with Vitamin D as my secret weapon
I’ve always struggled with Daylight savings time, especially in the fall when clocks fall back an hour, and it gets dark before 5 p.m. It always takes me about a week to adapt my sleep and routine to the new time change. Then a few weeks in, my seasonal depression sets in, and I struggle. I remember as a kid coming home from school in the winter and having no time to play outside or enjoy the sun because it became dark so early. As I grew up, I realized that the cold winter months in New England took a toll on my mood. I wasn’t the same Kelly as I was in the spring and summer months. Having less sunlight during the day decreased my energy and made me sad. It took me a while to figure out that my mood correlated with the cold and dark months.
I’m not sure why it took me so long to find the problem, but I finally talked to my doctor about it this past year and she had some great recommendations to reduce my seasonal depression. Her first recommendation was Vitamin D supplements. I’m not a licensed medical professional, but I’m going to try to explain the logic behind this. So, Vitamin D is a nutrient your body needs for building and maintaining healthy bones. And as humans, we primarily soak up Vitamin D through direct sunlight exposure. Vitamin D can be found in some foods, but usually not enough. Hence, many doctors recommend taking Vitamin D as a supplement to ensure levels are adequate. Measuring Vitamin D can be done through a blood test. When I had my blood work done, my Vitamin D was lower than average.
Since about October of 2021 I’ve been taking Vitamin D supplements. My doctor explained how I could buy Vitamin D over the counter at any pharmacy, and she told me to get ones that said 1,000 IU and to take one per day, preferably with food because it’s a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it will absorb better. I have to admit I was hesitant to go to the store and buy the supplement because I already have enough medications I take in a day, and I questioned if it would really make a difference.
Well, I can tell you I’m four months in with Vitamin D supplements, and it made a tremendous difference! I’ve never been one to believe people that say, “try this, it changed my life,” but here I am saying it to you. Further, I was surprised I noticed a difference. Personally, when I change something in my life, whether it be diet, exercise, or new medication sometimes I barely notice an improvement, or it takes a while for the improvement to be visible. I would estimate that I noticed improvements in my mood after about one month on Vitamin D. I feel more energized and ready to take on the day. Of course, sometimes I still get sad but that’s completely normal.
Here is the link to the Vitamin D supplement I take. I get it at Walmart and it’s super cheap! Make sure to get the 25 mcg, 1,000 IU softgels. Also, if you struggle with swallowing pills, these are fairly easy to swallow.
I’m not done yet! There are other ways to help with seasonal depression and adjusting to daylight savings time. My second recommendation is to book a vacation somewhere tropical! Haha, this is meant as a joke, but in all seriousness, I went to Florida over Christmas with my family and it definitely gave me a boost. There’s nothing like escaping the snow and cold weather than going to a warm place with palm trees. It always amazes me that I can step on an airplane all bundled up and then step off that same airplane in a new location and shed all my layers. I will be writing another story recalling all the amazing memories made on that vacation…so stay tuned. But long story short, I spent that whole vacation soaking up every possible second of the sun that I could. My Irish skin may not have been happy with me, but my Vitamin D levels were! Life’s all about balance.
Okay, onto recommendation number three. My doctor recommended light therapy, specifically light with 10,000 Lux. I was so confused when she told me this. At first, I thought I had to actually go somewhere with a special light to receive treatment, but that wasn’t the case. There are dozens of small light therapy lamps on the internet. I will link the one I purchased and use, below. I purchased this product around October of 2021 but didn’t start seriously using it till about this month. Again, I was skeptical. How could a light mimic the sun? I use it in the morning for about 15-20 minutes as recommended by my doctor and I feel a slight difference. I think it’s more helpful on the rainy, snowy, or as I call them “blah” days when the sun hides behind the clouds. However, sometimes in New England, the sun is out even though it’s freezing cold, so on these days, I try to sit by a window with direct sunlight instead of using the light lamp. I prefer the natural sun and feeling the rays radiate on my skin, but the light lamp isn’t a bad alternative when there is no sun or no other options.
Here is the link to the light therapy lamp I purchased for $25.99 on Amazon. It’s a little bigger than my hand and works great. My only criticism would be that it has to be plugged into work, you can’t charge it. And sometimes it’s annoying to have to plug it in and get the right angle. Other than that I like the size of it and that it has a timer.
Light Therapy Lamp, UV-Free 10000 Lux Therapy Light
I hope this helped someone out there! And if you are interested in improving your mood I encourage you to do your own research or talk to your doctor! There are so many more authentic products out there with high success rates. And don’t get discouraged if something doesn’t work right away. It took me a couple of years to even diagnose my problem and another year or so to do something about it.