Health care professionals offer solutions for seasonal affective disorder

The Western U.P. Health Department and Great Lakes Recovery Centers have solutions for seasonal affective disorder.
This time of year, when we rarely see the sun, some may be experiencing seasonal affective disorder.
Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 7:33 PM EST
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(WLUC) - This time of year, when we rarely see the sun, you may experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Western U.P. Health Department Provisional Medical Director Robert Van Howe said this disorder is common in Michigan. It is not so much caused by the weather but rather by the late sunrises and early sunsets.

“We need a certain amount of sunlight and a certain amount of light to keep our mood up,” said Howe. “One of the therapies for this is increasing the amount of light that people are exposed to.”

With Vitamin D created from direct sunlight, it can be difficult to obtain it as winter persists. Van Howe says there are solutions.

“There are lamps that are specifically designed for that,” said Howe. “Typically, what we do is aimed towards a certain amount of time each day that they’re exposed to the light.”

Great Lakes Recovery Centers Nurse Practitioner Natalie Walker said one way to safely boost your Vitamin D levels is by purchasing over-the-counter supplements.

“As far as exact doses go, I recommend talking to your family physician or health care provider to just get that consultation,” said Walker. “Be sure to make sure it’s applicable to you in terms of any medications.”

The health care professional also stated that during the summer is when people this far north start producing Vitamin D naturally because there is more exposure to sunlight. Walker also says right now, it’s important to speak up if you feel down.

“Be cautious of the things that your experience, which you’re feeling and know when to reach out for help,” said Walker.

Both Walker and Van Howe say if you are feeling down to the point where you can’t function, call a health professional as it could lead to dangerous thoughts of self-harm.