Wednesday, February 24, 2010

We all are Office Vampires: Spending time in the sun and its effects

The other day I saw an article in the local newspaper about the disease commonly found in underdeveloped countries called Rickets. Rickets is caused by a vitamin D deficiency. One of the remedies of rickets is to have ample sun exposure. Apparently, this stimualtes the formation or absorption of vitamin D in the body and prevents ricket. Rickets is common amongst young children and there are several awareness campaigns out there to spread the word about it amongst the poor. Interestingly, I noted that in today's lifestyle we are also spending increasingly lesser amounts of time outside in the Sun. We go around in an air conditioned car. We enter an air-conditioned office with tinted windows and artificial lighting. We sleep in air-cooled rooms on the weekends. The outdoor exposure to sunlight has rolled down to a minimal stroll in the mid-afternoon or if you have a site specific job then the exposure to the sun during a site visit. Either ways, if Rickets were to affect older people there would be a whole lot of people with a big belly (one of the symptoms of rickets is a big belly) and that would not have been caused by regular consumption of fattening food ! This lack of exposure to sunlight interestingly has a different effect on adults. Sun exposure stimulates the formation of a key hormone called serotonin. Serotonin is a very critical hormone that enables us to not go into depression and anxiety. It controls the body's ability to cope with stress. Now, we are increasingly spending time indoors like vampires afraid that the sun might burn us up AND we are getting into increasingly stressful job functions and responsibiltiies. A combination of the two forms a potent explosive mixture that pushes people into the domain of depression. Soon enough people are in the sinking sand trap of depressiveness and they fail to understand why everything around them is seemingly collapsing. People working in the private sector in India are spending an average of 14 hours at work starting at 7 AM near sunrise and ending way past sunset. These people in highly stressful job positions dont ever see the sun. And yet they keep wondering why the rates of depression are so high in cities like Mumbai. Untreated, it reaches tipping point where the individual starts to fail. We have now become depressive vampires. With depression comes anger and fear. And aptly so we go out in search of blood to satisfy that anger. So, the analogy of an office vampire is just aptly put.

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