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Does Sunlight Help with Anxiety?

Scientists have been studying the connection between anxiety and sunlight, finding in many cases, that sunlight levels are linked to anxiety and possibly panic disorder. While there have already been links found between sunlight levels and depression, the inclusion of anxiety in research might allow people to discover more strategies to reduce anxiety levels.

There are no definitive links so far, but researchers are still finding a connection. When people’s serotonin levels drop, this is a major factor in depression and seasonal affective disorder, which can happen when individuals don’t get enough sunlight. However, while there’s less of a connection between sunlight and anxiety, there is still a connection.

According to studies, there doesn’t appear to be a direct cause-and-effect relationship between sunlight levels and anxiety, people can and do experience increased anxiety and panic in response to less sun exposure.

How Does Sunlight Increase Serotonin?

Sunlight and darkness each trigger the release of hormones in the brain. Sunlight triggers serotonin and darkness triggers melatonin. The hormone serotonin is associated with improved mood and helping one feel focused and calm. The effects of serotonin are triggered by sunlight that enters your body through the eye. Sunlight cues special areas in the retina, which triggers the release of serotonin. Without enough exposure to the sun, your serotonin levels can dip. Lower levels of serotonin can pose a higher risk of depression and anxiety.

Physical & Mental Benefits of Sunlight

Sunlight offers a lot of benefits to the human body, including mental health benefits. It increases serotonin production as well as Vitamin D levels. Each of these plays a significant role in proper health and functioning, including mental health.

However, there is a potential additional benefit to sunlight for people who experience anxiety—it’s possible the sun reduces anxiety because it influences how we live our lives. When the sun is out, we tend to be more active, potentially spending more time in nature. These activities boost well-being and reduce anxiety.

In order to reduce your anxiety, you might want to consider incorporating some nature into your plans for a lower-stress, higher-quality life. Go outside every hour or so to enjoy the sun. If you have the chance to go on a short hike, do so. While research is still being done to shed light on the connection between sunlight levels and anxiety, there is enough evidence to show sunlight does give us some mental health advantages.

If you’re having problems with anxiety, talk to one of our Chico mental health professionals. Therapeutic Solutions can provide you or a loved one with professional and compassionate behavioral health services. We have 20 years of combined experienced in helping people cope with their mental health issues, and we are well-equipped to deliver the comprehensive care and treatment you need. Let us see what we can do for you in an appointment.

Call us at (530) 899-3150 or fill out our online form to schedule an appointment today. If you’d like to refer a patient, you can do so online here. We look forward to speaking with you!