© 2013 Kebba Buckley Button. World Rights Reserved.
Hands up, anyone who feels slower, more down, or more blah during the winter! Have you been feeling gloomy when the weather is, well, gloomy? Then maybe you are one of the estimated 10 million people who have Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. People with SAD report symptoms typically in the winter, when days are shorter. These symptoms include feeling sluggish, feeling “down”, lacking energy, and craving carbohydrates. People who eat for energy while affected by SAD may, sadly, gain weight. A side effect of feeling sluggish may be the tendency to exercise less, leading to a decrease in metabolic efficiency and therefore a further decrease in mood and vitality.
If you’re taking antidepressants, consider waiting before concluding your depression needs a stronger prescription. Coordinate with your doctor. And do check out some of the other options, while the days are shorter.
So how does this disorder work? In the brain, the hypothalamus is supposed to start the body’s clock each day, and it responds to strong light. With less light, you don’t get a great clock startup. However, light therapy has been used successfully to treat this disorder.
Whole light tubes for desk lamps, and light masks for a person to wear, were early attempts to help people get metabolize more light and feel better in short order. Today, you can buy therapy lamps, light boxes, and even “dawn simulators”. One style of lamp comes on with a low light that gradually increases to the brightness of daylight. However, a new light therapy is showing promise. Dr. Dan Oren, a psychiatrist at Yale University, has created a “light band”, which straps onto the back of the affected person’s knee. The light band is plugged in to recharge overnight, then unplugged and worn by the person, in the morning, for an hour. Dr. Oren hopes this particular green light will be proven to actually absorb into the bloodstream, through the skin.
Want that antidepressant effect? Want your brain back in alignment with your sleep/wake cycle? Then look at light therapy options, and talk with your doctor. You’ll soon beat the winter blahs and blues.
● Kebba Buckley Button is a corporate stress management trainer and the author of the award-winning book, Discover The Secret Energized You, and the 2012 book, Peace Within: Your Peaceful Inner Core. She also has a natural healing practice and is an ordained minister.
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