What is SAD and how to help it ? by Emma Tubmen

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a condition that has only relatively recently been named: the term first appeared in print in 1985. However, it seems that many people suffer with symptoms brought on by a lack of light in the Winter months. They can range from the ‘Winter blues’ when people feel slightly lethargic and sleep and eat more in the Winter, disliking the dark mornings and short days, to much more severe symptoms such as withdrawal, anxiety, serious overeating and depression, characterised by a severe lack of will to do anything. Some sufferers may even become hospitalized.

SAD has been shown to be caused by the lack of bright light in winter. Light entering our eyes stimulates our brain to control our daily rhythms through hormone production. In some people, the low levels of light in winter are insufficient to regulate the hormones that affect our waking up and sleeping, our feeling energised or depressed.

Reflexology can be very useful in helping to regulate hormone production, and therefore may be useful in treating SAD. Other complementary therapies such as therapeutic massage, craniosacral balancing and cognitive behavioural therapy can also play an important role in keeping a patient suffering with SAD from becoming depressed.





Light Therapy is the most common way to treat SAD

To treat SAD, most sufferers need light to their eyes as bright as a spring morning on a clear day, for around 30 minutes a day. The light must be at least 2,000 lux (the technical measure of brightness), which is roughly four times brighter than a well-lit office.

Lumie has designed lightboxes up to 10,000 lux that allow shorter treatment times and the option of sitting further away. They can be used while working or at home watching TV. Others are designed for travelling. Whether you have SAD from low light or milder winter blues, bright light is proven to tackle symptoms, put you in a better mood and make you feel more awake.

Lumie also invented Bodyclock, to wake you gradually with increasing natural light. This provides a natural signal to your body to adjust hormone levels, keeping your sleep cycle on track and boosting mood, energy and productivity levels all day. Bodyclock is an effective winter blues option and can be a useful complement to a lightbox in treating more severe SAD.

SAD was formally described and named in 1984 by Norman E. Rosenthal and colleagues at the National Institute of Mental Health.

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light therapy for SAD


Author: Emma Tubmen