Hi! I’m Erin Greer and my independent project deals with how different concentrations of Vitamin D3 can affect a fly’s mood and anxiety, thus relating it back to depression in humans. So, how exactly does this all correlate? It is apparent that today’s generation of young adults do not go outside as often as the previous generation. In fact, we spend about 90% of our lives indoors according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Report on the Environment (ROE) in 2017. Let’s compare that to the increasing 6.9% of the world’s population that has severe depression (to think that large a percentage has severe depression, how many have mild depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?...the numbers are endless) according to the World Health Organization (WHO). These numbers are growing, which led me to think they may relate.
As I began to brainstorm on how I can perform an experiment on drosophila flies that mimic the effect of the sun and how it influences mood, I found Vitamin D3, which is the type of Vitamin the sun emits. I set up four vials each containing thirty males and thirty females: one for my control flies and the others with food with increasing concentrations of D3. Each week I will perform the social space and centrophobism assays on my flies. These assays will help me measure the flies’ mood and anxiety. After I perform the assays each week, I will split half of my D3 exposed flies into new vials without the vitamin and see how the withdrawal affects them (through repeating the assays the following weeks and comparing the data). So far, my vials have been set up and my planning is in full throttle! It is safe to say I am excited for the next few weeks to compile my data and come to some conclusions.
So, my question: Does the amount of time we spend outside affect the development of depression? I agree with many scientists who hypothesize that our time spent outside influences our mood. Based on the research I have done, and hopefully the data my flies provide me with, I believe this possible correlation could help us in the future. Depression affects so many people (to say the least) and if there is a way we can prevent it and the damage it bestows, I wish to help. It has touched upon me and many others I know and if the answer to reduce the probability of being afflicted is increasing Vitamin D3 intake, then with the help of some flies let’s lower the statistics!