Shedding Light On Seasonal Affective Disorder

January 29, 2008 at 4:48 am 2 comments


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.

If you feel you may be suffering from SAD, you can evaluate yourself here. And here’s more on light therapy studies in Medical News Today.

Now if we can just do something about this rain…


Entry filed under: Depression, Uncategorized. Tags: , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Dennis  |  November 13, 2009 at 10:41 am

    This a post close to my heart SAD is slowly becoming recognizes as a clinical fact. There are so many people who have rediscovered life by finding sunshine, whether it is from uping sticks and moving to a sunnier state or by using a light box.

  • 2. jim | sad lamps  |  September 7, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    Coming up to the SAD seasun in the UK again now, and again it’s time to get SAD lights out. I’ve seen proof that they work, but i wouldn’t say they work wonders – what you need is real sunlight – nothing like sitting in the hot sun on holiday somewhere while the uk freezes. 🙂


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