Seasonal Affective Disorder
It is estimated that 25 million people in the United States alone feel the effects of "Seasonal Affective Disorder" or "SAD."
It actually turns out that those with this disorder are actually suffering from sunlight starvation, a condition that can be alleviated by merely letting a little light into their lives.
On a typical summer day we may get as much as 16 hours of daylight at an intensity of 100,000 LUX (the units at which light is measured).
By winter we are only getting 8 hours of daylight, at 5,000 LUX. This significant decline in sunlight often sets off a form of "SAD" or Winter Blues.
It has been observed that people with "SAD" eat more, especially carbohydrates. They sleep more, are less interested in sex, often gain weight, and become withdrawn and reserved, in general undergoing a personality change. The symptoms arrive in the winter, and vanish in the spring!
There are some things you can do to combat this malady…research shows that exposure to bright artificial light, specifically designed to curb the winter blues, may trick the brain into thinking it is spring.
Typically a person undergoing therapy will sit in front of a specially designed light that emits between 5,000 and 10,000 LUX of light. The person sits in front of the light for 20 to 60 minutes. The light impacts the retina and thus the optical nerve whose signal reaches the pineal gland, acting to reduce the level of melatonin in the blood.
Here are a few other benefits of healthy UV light, which is very healthy for you when given in the right amounts:
It activates the synthesis of Vitamin D which is a prerequisite for the absorption of calcium and other minerals of the diet.
It lowers the blood pressure.
It increases the efficiency of the heart.
It reduces cholesterol.
It assists in weight loss.
It's an effective treatment for psoriasis.
It increases the level of the sex hormones.
It activates an important skin hormone called "Solitrol," a form of Vitamin D.
I want to repeat our disclaimer here…light therapy may be tried first in treating "SAD," but should not be a substitute for conventional medical care.
Helen Pensanti M.D.
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