Sunlight and Serotonin
We’re used to hearing about how too much of the sun’s warm rays can be harmful to your skin. But did you know the right balance can have lots of mood-lifting benefits?
Sunlight and darkness trigger the release of hormones in your brain. Exposure to sunlight is thought to increase the brain’s release of a hormone called serotonin. Serotonin is associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel calm and focused. At night, darker lighting triggers the brain to make another hormone called melatonin. This hormone is responsible for helping you sleep. Without enough sun exposure, your serotonin levels can dip. Low levels of serotonin are associated with a higher risk of major depression with seasonal pattern (formerly known as seasonal affective disorder or SAD).
This is a form of depression triggered by the changing seasons. A mood boost isn’t the only reason to get increased amounts of sunlight. There are several health benefits associated with catching moderate amounts of rays. Decreased sun exposure has been associated with a drop in your serotonin levels, which can lead to major depression with seasonal pattern. The light-induced effects of serotonin are triggered by sunlight that goes in through the eye. Sunlight cures special areas in the retina, which triggers the release of serotonin. So, you’re more likely to experience this type of depression in the winter time, when the days are shorter.
Exposure to sunlight can also benefit those with other types of major depression:
• premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
• pregnant people with depression
Anxiety-related disorders and panic attacks have also been linked with changing seasons and reduced sunlight
Doctors have recommended UV radiation exposure to treat:
While light therapy isn’t for everyone, a dermatologist can recommend whether light treatments will benefit your specific skin concerns.
Research studies have revealed preliminary links between sunlight as a potential treatment for several other conditions.
• rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
• systemic lupus erythematosus
• inflammatory bowel disease
However, more studies need to be conducted before researchers can conclude that sunlight can be a treatment for these and other conditions