“We just passed Blue Monday – January 15, 2018 – a title given as it’s the 3rd Monday in January and has been considered to be the saddest day in the year. While not a fully scientific label it does generate conversation and can be a point of personal check-in each year. How is your mood? How are you feeling now that the holidays have passed and we have a long haul till spring? Are you noticing more ‘glass half empty’ thinking? If so it may be time to seek some help.
SAD or seasonal affective disorder is a real health concern and has links to lack of sunlight exposure and lower levels of Vitamin D. The lack of light leads to less melatonin and as a result less serotonin. Sleep issues, fatigue, weight gain, food cravings, and increased lethargy and muscle achiness can be part of ‘post-holiday blues’. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Testing for Vitamin D levels at this time of the year are very helpful in guiding appropriate dosing. Unless you are seeing a specialist (or are under 19) testing through LIfelabs is not covered by MSP so is a cost- $65.00 with your MD or $78.00 through a Sage Clinic Naturopathic doctor. Often patients say “my doctor just said to take Vitamin D” yet if you’ve not tested your levels you can’t actually determine if you are taking enough vitamin D. Patients with MS, a family history of osteoporosis, SAD, depression, anxiety, or any immune concerns are encouraged to get tested. The darkest month of the year is a great time to see if your dosing (or your holiday in the sun if you are lucky!) has sustained your D levels.I have seen patients in my practice who take daily D and still test low which is either about the quality of the Vitamin D, the levels of D taken or an issue of malabsorption.
In terms of SAD, in addition to Vitamin D exposure to UV light through Ott lights (full spectrum) for 30 minutes per day has shown benefit. Exercise can help enhance mood very quickly through stimulation of endorphins.
“Blue Monday” is a fun label for media but perhaps it serves as a great reminder that there are steps we can take to ensure the rest of the winter is brighter and more colourful!”