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ADHD in the News – Sunny States Have Lower Rates

January 18, 2014

ADHD SunshineAnyone who lives up here in the great white North where winter means short cold days and long dark nights is familiar with SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder.  But new research indicates that the lower exposure to sunlight experienced in northern areas might also contribute to the development of ADHD.  The study which was performed in the Netherlands looked at the rate of ADHD diagnosis in 10 countries, including the U.S.  Then they looked at which regions in those countries received the most sunlight annually.  What they found was that across the board, the regions of each country that got the most sun had half the rate of ADHD diagnosis as those that got the least.  Here in the U.S., the data showed that the Southwest including Arizona, Nevada, California, New Mexico, and even Utah got the most sunlight and had about half the diagnosis rate as the least sunny places like the Northeast.  The results held fast even after factoring out other things that could be skewing the data.

The research team notes that since some people with ADHD have messed up biological clocks, which are controlled by sunlight exposure, the findings point to the need for additional research.

From my perspective, there may be something to this even though my formative years were spent in sunnier locations.   We have noticed, and I often recommend to my clients, that when symptoms are bad – especially if you are feeling overwhelmed or shut down – just going outside can act as a jump start to your body and a palette cleanser for your mind.   Now, I don’t know if it is sunshine or fresh air or outdoors or nature or just the change of scenery but it definitely makes a difference.  And since odds are that people who live in sunnier (read warmer) places are likely to spend more time outside than those of us in the frozen north it may come down to sunlight impacting the severity of symptoms rather than the condition itself.

You can read the article on US News here.


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