By Lily Stuart

As the weather gets warmer and spring makes its entrance, many find themselves spending more time outside and embracing the sun after a long and cold Ohio winter, as if suddenly awakened from hibernation. Also noticeable is a shift in student activity: avid library studiers turn into park bench residents, and procrastinators become interested in sunbathing and are found roaming across campuses.

When the sun finally shows its face in these early days of April, one may ask if there’s a deeper reason for the shift in temperament. The first time that the thermostat reads 60 degrees or the sun peeks out from behind a cloud, some may find themselves smiling, getting work done, and generally enjoying the day far more. It turns out that there’s a biological reason that many of us feel these changes with the passing of the seasons.

Seasonal depression, also called seasonal affective disorder, is a type of depression brought about by the changing of the seasons. It’s characterized by feelings of sadness, lack of energy, loss of interest in usual activities, and oversleeping. The Cleveland Clinic reports that about 5% of adults in the U.S. experience seasonal depression, and one of its main causes is something that most Ohioans are subject to: vitamin D deficiency.

Because sunlight helps produce vitamin D, less sun in the winter can lead to a vitamin D deficiency. Serotonin levels get a boost from vitamin D, meaning that the weather can and does affect serotonin levels and mood. A study conducted by the Cleveland Clinic even noted that approximately 35% of adults in the United States have vitamin D deficiency. Some of the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency can be alleviated by taking vitamin D supplements and spending time in the sun when possible.

Weather in Ohio is often so overcast that residents don’t see the sun directly with a high degree of regularity. All things considered, it only makes sense that when the human brain is suddenly reintroduced to this chemical that regulates satisfaction and happiness, there is a newfound feeling of lightness!

Source: The Cleveland Clinic