Have you ever thought of moving to a sunnier climate when you retire? Or sat crammed behind an office desk and daydreamed about a Caribbean vacation? There's a reason why these ideas seem to instantly lift your mood. It's the sun.
More specifically, it's the way that sunlight encourages your brain to produce serotonin. Quite simply, whenever your eyes perceive bright light and the glow makes contact with your retina, the brain receives a message that prompts it to make serotonin. This chemical is responsible for dissipating negative emotions and putting you at ease. There is often no need to turn to prescription medication: bright light is the cheapest and most natural way to fight menopausal depression.
A second and equally important benefit of sunlight is its ability to enable your skin to produce vitamin D. This fat-soluble nutrient is actually a hormone, and like all hormones its levels can become imbalanced during menopause. Vitamin D is important for your body because it plays a vital role in heart health, skeletal development, and strong immunity, as well as benefiting other body systems. All of these systems can be negatively impacted by fluctuating hormones, so ensuring sufficient levels of vitamin D is important.
Five Simple Tips to Fight Menopausal Depression
This may seem like the obvious place to start, but it's worth repeating. The best times of day to catch some sun are between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. However, remember to be cautious: too much sun is damaging to the skin.
Go Without Sunscreen for a Few Minutes
If you spend a lot of time in the sun, you may already get more than enough vitamin D and serotonin. However, sunscreen can sometimes block the rays that give you the power to produce these much-needed hormones. In order to make sure you're getting a healthy dose of vitamin D, try waiting for a few minutes before putting on sunscreen. But do remember to put it on after no more than ten minutes in the sun.
Do Some Winter Lounging
If it's freezing outside and you can't imagine sunbathing in the backyard, you can still get your sunlight through a window. On a sunny winter day, try sitting by a big window to let the sunlight hit you without catching a chill.
Sometimes the problem isn't your daily habits but the weather. If you live in a particularly dreary climate, you may wish to consider moving in order to combat depression. This is often easier to do postmenopause, when you and your partner may have retired, your children have left home, and you therefore have fewer commitments. Ditch your raincoat and umbrella for a sunnier climate, and think of it as a new, depression-free start.
Get a Light Box
If you live in a dreary climate and moving isn't a possibility for you, you can literally get your sunshine in a box. Although the natural stuff is best, it is possible to purchase a high-intensity light box made specifically for absorbing some rays.
Although it is often the quickest way to get vitamin D, sunlight isn't the only way to obtain this nutrient. You can also pay special attention to your diet and make it a goal to eat more foods rich in vitamin D, like fish and eggs. Click here to read more about treatments for menopausal depression.
- Boyles, Salynn, and Dr. Louise Change.(n.d). "Nearing Menopause? Depression a Risk". Retrieved from www.webmd.com
- University Health Services"Clinical Depression".(n.d). University Health Services. Retrieved from www.uhs.berkeley.edu
- University of Michigan Depression Center.(n.d)."Women and Depression: Menopause". Retrieved from www.med.umich.edu.