Shedding Light On Seasonal Affective Disorder
Photo by Garrette
Now that the winter cold and darkness has descended on San Francisco, many are finding themselves exhibiting symptoms of depression. If you experience lack of energy, lower appetite or sex drive, and depressed and/or irritable feelings more often in the winter, you may be experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Once written off as quack-psychology, Seasonal Affective Disorder is now a well established, and very real mental health concern. And luckily, studies are beginning to give us real answers about treatment of this disorder. The New York Times recently wrote an interesting article on the subject.
“A major biological signal tracking seasonal sunlight changes is melatonin, a brain chemical turned on by darkness and off by light. Dr. Wehr and Dr. Rosenthal found that the patients with seasonal depression had a longer duration of nocturnal melatonin secretion in the winter than in the summer, just as with other mammals with seasonal behavior.”
According to these studies, the solution may be quite simple – exposure to bright light. Amazingly enough, research is confirming that spending at least 30 minutes exposed to flourescent soft-white light at 10,000 lux a day typically produces results in 4 to 7 days. Timing is important, as you are working with your body’s normal circadian rhythms but some are even able to forgo antidepressants utilizing this light therapy.
Now if we can just do something about this rain…