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Causes Of Seasonal Affective Disorder

Mar 10, 2008
Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD is a condition that is brought on by lack of adequate sunlight. Individuals who suffer from this condition experience major depressive episodes during the fall and winter months, when the daylight hours are shorter. These acute symptoms abate in during the spring and summer months when the days are longer. Geographical location, age and genetics are all contributory factors to the onset of seasonal affective disorder in an individual.

Symptoms of Season Affective Disorder

Some of the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder include memory loss, lack of energy, sleep disturbances, inability to concentrate, change in appetite, body aches and pain, change in weight, low self-esteem, diminishing sex drive, suicidal thoughts and lack of interest in any activity.

How Light Therapy helps

The hormone melatonin, which is produced in the hypothalamus of the brain during the hours of darkness, plays a vital role in SAD. Extra hours of darkness during fall and winter cause the production of excessive amounts of melatonin, leading to the onset of severe depression symptoms. Exposure to a source of bright light, such as that emitted from a light box can help reduce the melatonin production, thus alleviating the severe symptoms.

How the Light Box works

The light box is a specially designed box that provides a precise amount of balanced spectrum light that is of the same intensity and quality as the light an individual would normally receive by spending time outdoors in the sun. This light from the box helps regulate the production of melatonin in the brain and normalizes the internal body clock functions.

How a Light Box is used

The individual is required to sit directly in front of the light box facing the source of light. The eyes have to be kept open as UV rays are known to enter the body through the eyes and not the skin or any other part of the body. However care should be taken to keep the face averted as looking directly into the source of light could cause damage to the eyes.

The recommended distance for each individual is different and depends upon the desired intensity for that particular person. The duration of each individual's session is also different.

Light therapy is most effective if it is done at the same time and for the same duration every day, at least till the symptoms disappear. After that, the doctor could decide to reduce the duration of sessions or sometimes even split the session into two sessions of shorter duration each.

Individuals who suffer from seasonal disruptive disorders should commence their light therapy treatment as soon as the symptoms are obvious and begin to get distressing. Light therapy sessions can be discontinued with the onset of spring, when individuals are likely to receive adequate amount of natural sunlight. Seasonal disruptive disorder symptoms are also aggravated during cloudy and rainy weather and could necessitate the use of light therapy.

Excessive use of light therapy could cause adverse side effects and it should only be resorted to on the advice and recommendation of a qualified doctor.
About the Author
Learn about Sunbox SAD Light Therapy Products at http://www.lighttherapyworld.com/
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