During the time of winter or late fall, you might have often noticed a significant change in your mood and energy. And at times the grim state of your mind and the feeling of drained energy can stay for a long period of time. And if you don’t take any step to cure that, your mood and motivations can get ruined for the whole season. However, this seasonal feeling of sadness, depression. sleepiness and tiredness has a name. It is called the “Seasonal Affective Disorder” or SAD. While there are many kinds of processes that can help you with SAD, currently the ‘Bright Light Therapy’ stands out among all the others.
What Actually is SAD?
SAD is mainly a form of depression, which follows a seasonal pattern. It actually occurs during the darker months of winter and late fall and returns on a yearly basis at the same time. Apart from SAD, It’s also known as ‘winter blues’ or ‘winter depression’.
This condition accounts for about 10% of all the cases of major depression around the world and it actually occurs more in women than men. Among many things, SAD makes you feel sad, anxious, tired, and gloomy. This disorder gets you disinclined to socialize, and it undermines your ability to concentrate in your work. You will want to remain at your house or in your bed even for all the day. You won’t want to get up at all or go out for your work. Even if you go out, you’ll be looking forward to going back as soon as possible. Human interaction might irritate you and you will feel the urge to be alone. Apart from having a sad and anxious state of mind, you will feel tired most of your time.
All these are actually also the symptoms of typical depression. Many people increase their calorie intake and tend to sleep longer than usual. Interestingly, after the period of fall and winter, most people with SAD go back to being happy, productive and cheerful. In the case of women, SAD usually begins in their late teens or early 20s and often disappears after menopause.
Reasons Behind SAD
According to specialists, there are some hormonal reasons that can cause SAD. LAck of sunlight is thought to be the main reason behind it. When we go out in the sunlight during summer days it helps us keep warm and happy. And transporter protein, melatonin etc hormones don’t get generated in our body at a high rate. But during cold and dark winter days, we don’t get much sunlight.
And as a result, melatonin and transporter protein get produced at a higher rate, which causes serotonin to go into the deeper parts of the neurons and not be active. Serotonin is the hormone that keeps you happy, energetic and cheerful. Melatonin specially creates the tiredness and sleepiness that you feel during the time.
How to Use Light Therapy to Treat SAD
As we have discussed earlier, Light therapy can be an effective way of getting rid of the Seasonal Affective Disorder. For using the light therapy you’ll need a source of light, which is usually called a ‘lightbox’. It has to be able to emit the strong light you need for the therapy. According to the recommendation of experts, the standard measure of brightness should be 10,000 lux, which is more or less equivalent to the early morning sunlight. In the changing daylight of fall and winter, 15 to 20 minutes of 10,000 lux light once a day may suffice.
You can take the therapy just after waking up in the morning, or you can take it in your preferred time. But morning is mostly recommended. Light exposure can gradually be increased to 30–45 minutes per session if you think shorter sessions are not working according to your need or expectation. Also severe SAD may warrant longer exposure to the bright light. Perhaps you can take sessions worth up to about an hour and a half per day, covered in two sessions. This should help you with your symptoms of SAD.
How Light Therapy Works to Help with SAD
From the earlier discussions, you can easily guess how actually the bright light therapy works. For the bright light therapy you use a light source called the lightbox, which generates the light you need for taking the therapy. And in this process, the lightbox mics the sunlight and actually creates an artificial source of sunlight for you. And when you sit near it and take light therapy everyday for a significant amount of time, it works the way sunlight works in your body.
The light that comes from the lightbox reduces the production of transporter protein in your body, and as a result serotonin can do its job properly in keeping you cheerful and energetic. Also the production of melatonin decreases too, as a result reducing your tiredness and sleepiness. So, now you know how taking bright light therapy on a regular basis can help you with your mood and energy. It can help you have a smooth life during that time of fall and winter and feel motivated to get up from your bed and do something without feeling sad or irritated.
Before light therapy there weren’t many other things that you could do to help yourself with seasonal affective disorder. You’d just have to hold on and go through the time. Or you’d have to go through psychotherapy that are costly or medications, which are either costly or have side effects. But you can easily take the bright light therapy at your own home and it can significantly help you with SAD. Now, you can go through the sad times rather peacefully. So, it is indeed a revolutionary treatment for the SAD.