No More Singin\' the Blues - Lighting your Way to a Better Mood
by Estee Taschereau
Winter blues is a real thing. Seasonal depression affects thousands, and many do not understand the cause or treatment. What are the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder? Low energy, sleep disorders, a bad mood, depression, and a low energy level.
What exactly is seasonal depression, or seasonal affective disorder? This condition, commonly referred to as S.A.D. occurs when the days shorten, and darker skies are predominant. Areas like Seattle, Washington may be higher in S.A.D. cases since the winter skies are commonly grey and cloudy.
Most of us work a 9 to 5 job, and during the winter months we do not receive enough natural light. Working in an office building often translates to fluorescent lighting and insufficient sunlight. Weather conditions don\'t promote spending time outdoors. How does this affect us? We react with a bad mood, fatigue, and an inability to concentrate. What causes these mood swings and energy drops? Melatonin, a natural substance produced by our brain.
One form of treatment for seasonal depression is therapeutic bright lights. Many physicians now prescribe these units, and many insurance companies will pay part or all of the cost. Therapeutic bright lights offer a high intensity light that stimulates the brain and turns off the production of melatonin, a natural substance produced by the brain that influences our energy and mood.
A good quality therapeutic light unit will produce the light equivalent to one hundred 100 watt light bulbs, without the heat that would be produced by regular incandescent bulbs. This may seem like an excessive amount of light, but it is far less than the lux or light output produced by the sun on a clear day.
Our typical home lighting does not provide the amount of light that we typically need to signal the body to decrease our melatonin production. While some of us do not notice the affects, many of us experience lower energy during the daytime when we should be awake and alert.
What happens when bright light therapy is used to treat seasonal depression? Many report a higher energy level. The craving for carbohydrates decreases as well. Mood improves, for the better, and the ability to concentrate improves. Use of these bright lights is recommended in the morning to trigger the brain to shut off the nighttime needed melatonin.
Before you begin any therapy or treatment program you should consult with your eye care specialist or physician. Light therapy should not be used if you have certain eye conditions. Medications you are currently taking should be discussed, and if you are prescribed any new medication you should report that you are using light therapy and ask if there on contradictions with that new med. In addition you should compare the light output and energy use of different units to find the quality and economy unit that will serve you best.
It\'s easy to include a therapy bright light treatment session into your day to day life. You can use it while shaving or applying your makeup. You can use your bright light while working your crossword puzzle of the day, or when reading the local news. Bring a little more light into your life with therapy bright lights.