Depressed, stupid and tired in winter

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The winter hits many on the mind

The days are getting shorter. You go to work in the dark and return in the dark. The gray winter months cause melancholy and lethargy in many people. This can be due to a lack of vitamin D. The latest research has shown that a deficiency also negatively affects brain performance. Medically, the depressed mood is also called "Seasonal Affective Disorder Syndrome" for short SAD, which affects 4 million people in Germany. They cannot find enough rest at night and are accordingly tired during the day. Winter depressions are assigned to depressive disorders as a special form of mood disorders in the ICD-10.

Lack of light leads to depression and memory impairment Scientists from the University of Alabama have studied the data of around 3:00 p.m. women and men with depression, examining the effects of cognitive abilities on staying in daylight. The result was that the mind of SAD patients is impaired. People who are mostly in the dark have a 1.4 times higher risk of cognitive impairment, such as a memory impairment, due to the lack of sunlight. However, this only affects people who generally suffer from winter depressive moods. For study leader Shia Kent, the results of the study suggest that hormonal changes are the trigger for cognitive impairments.

The production of the messenger substance serotonin, which is responsible, among other things, for the control and influencing of perception, sleep, pain sensation and pain processing, is reduced due to a lack of light. Instead of the "good mood" hormone, the melatonin responsible for the day-night rhythm is increasingly formed and released in the pineal gland. As a result, we tire more quickly and are increasingly worn out. "Other studies have also shown that cerebral blood flow depends on daylight," Kent explains. A deficiency can therefore impair cognitive ability.

Osteoporosis patients have similar moods Scientists have shown a similar effect in people who suffer from osteoporosis. You have a connection between the level of vitamin D in the blood, mood and mental abilities. Researchers at the University of Texas observed this effect in patients with particularly low vitamin D levels who are also prone to depression. Based on the data from 1,000 elderly seniors, it could be proven that the lower the vitamin D values ​​are, the worse the results were also in tests of memory and concentration.

The scientists led by study leader Katherine Tucker were able to demonstrate metabolic pathways in the brain in which the vitamin is involved. These mainly take place in the hippocampus and cerebellum, both of which are involved in the production of new memories. These results demonstrate that vitamin D deficiency is a trigger for depression and cognitive impairment, and not as a result of it.

In the past, Canadian researchers have shown that vitamin D appears to be involved in many other diseases. Breast cancer patients who suffered from vitamin D deficiency at the same time are three times more likely to develop metastases. In addition, you have a 73 percent higher risk of dying within the first 10 years after discovery. The experts agree that vitamin D plays a central role in the body's defense against autoimmune diseases such as Crohn's disease and multiple sclerosis. In the defense against respiratory infections, people with reduced vitamin D levels also show a risk that is increased by around a third.

Vitamin D is produced in the skin Similar to serotonin, vitamin D is produced by the absorption of sunlight through our skin. The more UV-B rays that can be absorbed, the more vitamin D the body can produce. A walk of 20 minutes a day is enough in winter.

Vitamin D preparations not good for everyone Vitamin D in overdose can also damage health and even promote the development of arteriosclerosis and infarction. Healthy people should therefore avoid food supplements with vitamin D. Foods such as cheese, fish, meat and eggs also have a positive effect on the vitamin D balance. But there are other ways of influencing production. "A solarium visit every two weeks is usually enough to save the vitamin level from summer to winter," explains Morten Bogh, who is researching this topic at the University of Copenhagen. Naturopathy can also help. Numerous home remedies for winter depression have proven themselves in practice. (fr)

Image: Gerd Altmann /

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