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Lack of Sunlight Increases Suicide Rate

100 years ago the following article appeared in JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association.

“During the past six or seven weeks the bright days have been exceedingly rare, even for this rather gloomy season of the year. According to the weather reports, there were less than five clear days throughout most of the northern part of the region east of the Mississippi during December. Since then weather conditions have not ameliorated and the first half of January has been quite as gloomy. Under these circumstances a definite increase in the amount of catarrhal disease of the respiratory tract is always noted, and it seems clear that the absence of sunlight encourages the propagation of various germs in the air, which prove the source of infective disorders when inhaled.”

The article also mentioned and increase in emotional disorders. “It is evident, too, that resistive vitality is lower in the absence of sunlight and that the feeling of depression which comes over most people during a succession of gloomy days is a manifestation of lowered vital activities. During the last few weeks many more suicides than usual have been reported in the newspapers. The statistics of suicide for many years have shown that a much larger proportion of these unfortunate fatalities occur on dark gloomy day than during fine weather.”

Current research has shown that deficiency of Vitamin D (a hormone produced by sunlight) can affect seasonal affective disorder as well as the immune system. So for those living in the northern latitudes it would be wise to take 1,000 to 2,000 IU of Vitamin D.

Terry Pfau, DO, HMD

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