When I say SAD, I’m referring to “Seasonal Affective Disorder”. There are about 40 million people with this disorder which occurs during the winter season when there is less light during the day. About 15 million are affected enough to interfere with their personal, and professional lives. Most of these people are women (about 75%).
Brain chemistry is affected by changes in seasons and weather. The most common symptoms are depression, oversleeping, overeating, weight gain, mood swings, sadness and anxiety. When light passes through our eyes, it is transmitted to the hypothalamus gland in the brain. This gland helps regulate our response to stress, our emotional energy, fluid balance, sleep and many other functions. This light information is sent to the pineal gland that releases the hormone Melatonin. Yes.. it’s all about hormones.
The hormone Melatonin governs our biological sleep/wake cycle and is released at its highest levels in darkness and its lowest levels during the light hours. During the winter months, the lack of strong sunlight can cause an imbalance in our Melatonin levels and eventually result in SAD symptoms.
Research has shown that light or phototherapy is very effective in reducing and alleviating symptoms of SAD. Light boxes work best, which can be purchased in some health stores, on line or even some hardware stores. Light is measured in “lux” and to receive a therapeutic effect, light boxes need to produce from 2500-10,000 lux or 20 times the lux found in the average room (about 500 lux). Make sure it is a full-spectrum lighting system that also reduces EMFs (electromagnetic fields). It should be quiet and not generate heat. They can run from $190.00-$300.00.
It may be well worth the investment to get through those dark, cold days and nights.