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What Are the Winter Blues or Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also know as winter blues, is a type of reoccurring major depression that has a seasonal pattern (1). The most common type is winter depression which is described as patients developing depression during the fall and winter and then returning to normal in the spring and summer months (2). This occurrence is experienced by a patient for at least two years. The change from more light to darkness during the fall and winter months can contribute to people developing SAD (1).
People with this condition have trouble regulating serotonin and may have decreased levels of serotonin. Serotonin regulates people’s mood and is associated with the feeling of happiness. People who experience SAD may also have trouble managing the amount of melatonin in their body. Melatonin is a hormone the body produces in response to darkness. In the winter time, there are longer periods of darkness which can cause people who have SAD to increase melatonin levels in their bodies. This can result in them feeling sleepy an sluggish (1).
What are the Symptoms of SAD?
- Lack of energy
- Depressed mood
- Weight gain
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleeping more than normal
- Decreased involvement in social situations/regular activities
- Cravings carbohydrates and sugar
- Weight gain due to overeating
What is the Relationship Between Covid-19 and SAD?
About 2-3 percent of Canadians will experience SAD in their life.
About 15% will experience a milder form of SAD which will leave them feeling slightly depressed, but still able to live their life without any major disruption. Adults, women and people living in northern countries are more likely to experience SAD (3).
Sadly, with Covid-19 this year, those who experience SAD or have depression may have a more difficult time coping. The stress brought on by isolation, lack of social interactions, and fear over health can make it more difficult to cope with SAD. Also, with people spending more time indoors due to the pandemic, this means less exposure to natural light. As we know, decreased exposure to sunlight has been found to be a very key factor in SAD (4).
How Can You Overcome or Treat SAD?
Light therapy has been shown to help people suffering from SAD.
In one study, 322 patients were followed over a 5 year period. The study found that people exposed to light for 2 hours a day for 1 week had a significant decrease in depression symptoms.
Another study followed 96 patients over 6 winter seasons. This study discovered that after 3 weeks of treatment patients had complete or almost complete decrease in symptoms. Morning exposure to light seemed to be the most beneficial.
One last study compared the use of light therapy and antidepressants. This study, in Canada, analyzed 96 patients over 3 winter seasons. Some participants were given an antidepressant and some were given light therapy. The study found that those who underwent light therapy showed more improvement in the first week of treatment. Overall, the study found that light therapy works as well as antidepressants. Both groups showed similar improvements in depression.
Well Natured’s Light Therapy Lamp Recommendation
Several studies have shown the positive effects of light therapy for SAD. It may just be the answer to your winter blues. Sunlight is very important for all of us. Most of us living far away from the equator with dark winter seasons don’t get enough sunlight throughout the year. Light therapy can have benefits for everyone. That’s why we recommend a light therapy lamp!
Taotronic’s Light Therapy Lamp is our recommendation. This lamp mimics natural light which helps fight against winter blues, jet leg, and shift work. Here are some of its top features:
- Taotronic’s Light Therapy Lamp has 3 different brightness settings, which makes it easy to adjust in any environment
- It allows you to set a timer from 10 minutes to 60 minutes
- Very compact and can fit in small spaces.
- It’s a great lamp to stimulate the body’s natural response to light
Taotronic’s Light Therapy Lamp will keep you energized throughout the day and help fight against those winter blues!
- Touch Control
- UV Free LED
- Amazon’s Choice
Reminder: Always be sure to read and follow the directions written on the products you are using.
With Covid-19, Seasonal Affective Disorder may be more difficult to cope with and effect more people. A light therapy lamp is natural and has many benefits. It may just be the solution to your winter blues.
Live Well Charged.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, at no cost to you. If you click on a link and make a purchase, we make a small commission. Read our full disclosure for more information. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Charmane I. Eastman, P. (1998, October 01). Bright Light Treatment of Winter Depression. Retrieved from https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/article-abstract/204290
(4) Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder amid COVID-19. (2020, November 20). Retrieved from https://www.doctorsofbc.ca/together-health/coping-seasonal-affective-disorder-amid-covid-19
(3) Find Help Now. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://cmha.bc.ca/documents/seasonal-affective-disorder-2/
(2) M.D., R. W., Search for more papers by this author, M.B.B.S., A. J., M.D., R. D., M.D., M. W., M.D., R. M., . . . Terman, M. (2006, May 01). The Can-SAD Study: A Randomized Controlled Trial of the Effectiveness of Light Therapy and Fluoxetine in Patients With Winter Seasonal Affective Disorder. Retrieved from https://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/ajp.2006.163.5.805
(1) Melrose, S. (2015, November 25). Seasonal Affective Disorder: An Overview of Assessment and Treatment Approaches. Retrieved from https://www.hindawi.com/journals/drt/2015/178564/
Terman M, Terman JS, Ross DC: A controlled trial of timed bright light and negative air ionization for treatment of winter depression. Arch Gen Psychiatry 1998; 55:875–882 Retrieved from http://www.ederma.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Terman-1989-Neuropsychopharm.pdf
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