How sunlight can help you fight depression

Did you know that light and darkness affect our hormonal levels?

Sunlight, for example, can help us produce serotonin, a hormone that boosts our mood, calms our mind, and helps us to focus. Darkness, on the other hand, helps us produce melatonin, which is the hormone that makes us sleepy and is critical to our getting a good night’s sleep.

Not only does sunlight help you increase serotonin, but the reverse is also true. The Mayo Clinic, an American nonprofit medical practice and medical research group, claims that a drop in serotonin might play a role in seasonal affective disorder, and “reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin that may trigger depression.”

A 2007 article in Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience reported that sunlight is “an effective treatment for nonseasonal depression, and also reduces depressed mood in women with premenstrual dysphoric disorder and in pregnant women suffering from depression.”

Plus, a 2009 article in Environmental Health noticed a link between decreased sunlight exposure and impaired cognitive function.

If you experience depression, consider including more sunlight exposure in your holistic mental health treatment.

Go for a walk with your dog, open your blinds and curtains, spend time at the park with a friend, head to the post office to mail a letter to a loved one, take your bike instead of your car, or work in your garden. There are many ways to get more sunshine in your life.