Are you one of those people who become depressed as the winter months approach and we have less daylight hours to look forward to? If so, you may be suffering from SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Essentially, this is a condition in which prolonged exposure to an environment with few hours of light leads to feelings of depression. However, SAD is a specialized form of depression. Many who show no signs of depression during the spring and summer months when the number of sunlight hours is at its peak, suddenly find themselves feeling depressed as winter approaches.
But, the really interesting thing about this type of depression is the discovery of one of the most effective treatments that researchers have discovered to combat it - light therapy. The theory behind light therapy is simple. It is that the moods of a certain percentage of the population is inordinately affected by the amount of daylight that they receive each day. This phenomenon of light having an impact on mood has been firmly established during multiple research studies since the nineteen eighties.
The reason for this is found in a hormone called melatonin. Most people know melatonin as the hormone that helps to regulate the sleep cycle. When it gets dark, the body naturally produces more of this hormone which helps the person sleep better. However, melatonin can also directly affect mood. And, in certain people, when the levels of this hormone in the body rise over a certain threshold - it causes them to become depressed. Many people experience this as "cabin fever". Others refer to it as winter depression. And the effect on the body is real.
Studies seem to show that sunlight cause melatonin in the body to be produced at a lower rate. So, as spring rolls around, and the person is receiving more sunlight, his melatonin reserves are reduced and the depression seems to magically go away.
Having proven the connection between daylight and depression, the next step, of course, was to see if the effect of natural daylight could be simulated to produce the same effect. And, much to the researchers delight, it could be. It was found that if a patient spent a certain amount of time in the presence of the anti-depression lights, the body was fooled into slowing its production of melatonin and the depression disappeared.
This is a godsend for those suffering from SAD and looking for a natural way to treat their depression. Even though it is natural, however, it is best to receive this treatment from a medical professional who can work with you to determine the precise levels of light that you need to help control your moods.