A Guide To… Mental Health & Sunbeds

**Disclaimer: If you don’t know by now, sunbeds are pretty bad for you. There are numerous risks involved with them, most menacing being skin cancer. I’m not going to go into the cons in the post, however further reading on the risks can be found on this NHS article or by a simple Google search. Stay safe. Know your limits**

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When the seasons change, a higher percentage of us develop depression, including 1 in 3  people in the UK that suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D). You may put it down to the much shorter days and evenings that seem to go on forever, but it seems like summer cannot hurry up to help you feel almost revived!

One possible cause of SAD is the melatonin of those who suffer with SAD builds up during the winter months rather than staying at a normal level, as it is in the summer. It is also understood that serotonin dips in sufferers, thus leading to increased depression. They work together and if one is too high, the other will inevitably dip (much like a see-saw).

MELATONINa hormone in the body that responds to light and regulates when we’re awake vs when we’re asleep.

SEROTONIN: your own little happy hormone, it affects your appetite, mood and works with melatonin to regulate sleep.

As we went the winter months, our brain gets a little off-balanced and tips this see-saw in favour for melatonin. For those affected by SAD, it’s effectively having an elephant on your melatonin end and a mouse on your serotonin side – not very fair at all. The craziest thing for many SAD sufferers is that it’s all down to the amount of sunlight we receive. And that’s where sunbeds come in…

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The bright light of the sunbeds helps to regulate your melatonin levels and in turn can increase the serotonin levels relieving the effects of SAD as aforementioned. The body also releases endorphins, thus lifting the mood even higher.

ENDORPHINS: your personal supply of a morphine-like chemical, giving you a ‘high’ (euphoric feeling) when interacting with certain things, such as exercise, stress or fear

Personally, just entering the tanning salon with the smell of tanning creams and burning flesh (joking), I feel a lot happier and more relaxed. Call it a placebo effect, but I’ll take that feeling any day. Whilst actually on the sunbed, I have 9 minutes to just think about everything, and it’s a great solace when things outside that little room aren’t as great as I’d want them to be – it’s also the place where I think about posts I’m going to write, although about 99% I forget within seconds of dressing. Having a bit of a tan all year round also helps build my self-esteem greatly.

Again, I want to stress that there are tonnes of risks associated with sunbeds, but I’d prefer you to know how they may help you, rather than focusing on the negatives.

**If you or your loved one’s condition is critical, suicidal, or just very worrying, please call 999. You can also contact the Samaritans on 08457 909090 24 hours a day or Mind‘s infoline on 0300 123 3393 (Mon-Fri 9am-6pm)**

If you need help and support, you can email me (megrrees@gmail.com) or tweet me @megrrees.

Megan xxxx

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