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Seasonal Affective Disorder: What is it and can Light therapy help?

Sunbeds Vs The Sun
December 5, 2016
D Sunshine Vitamin
January 4, 2017

The festive season is getting into full swing and we hope you are all feeling suitably merry! The bells are jingling, Christmas trees are being decorated and summer probably feels like a distant memory for most of you now.

For many, the arrival of winter and the inevitable retreat of regular sunshine, can lead to a much more sinister ailment than just a bad case of summer nostalgia. This ailment comes in the form of ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’.
Seasonal Affective Disorder, fittingly abbreviated to SAD, is a form of depression also known as ‘Winter Depression’. SAD is still not fully understood by scientists around the World but what we do know is that it’s most common during the winter period of December, January and February.

During these months, we tend to get up for work when it is still dark, spend the precious few sunny hours of the day indoors, and leave work in darkness again. It’s fairly bleak and this can cause real issues for us, as mammals rely on sunlight as a cue for their Circadian Rhythms.

The Cicardian Rhythm is in simple terms our internal body clock. It is how we develop sleeping and eating patterns. Without these light cues and with this disturbed body clock our brain does not create the correct levels of Serotonin, the chemical vital for keeping us happy.

This unbalance can lead to a number of extremely debilitating symptoms which collectively form SAD.
The most recognisable symptoms are:
• Lethargy – increased daytime sleeping
• Sadness / constant lowness of mood
• Loss of interest in hobbies
• Cravings for food
• Feelings of desperation and worthlessness
• Anger – increased irritability

If the above symptoms sound familiar and if you are struggling to cope, then your local GP can assess you and help determine if you are suffering from SAD. However, the great news is that there are increasingly effective therapies to counter and prevent SAD in the first place. The most prolific and effective of these is ‘Light Therapy’.

SAD Light therapy effectively simulates natural sunlight, stimulating our eyes and therefore our brain. This in turn causes all of the body’s natural processes mentioned above to function, allowing serotonin to be released and for the body to feel normal and most importantly, HAPPY!

To achieve this, special SAD bulbs have been created which perfectly mimic natural sunlight. Light intensity is measured in Lux, and bulbs need to generate 2,500 lux to stimulate our bodies to release serotonin. Bulbs are now capable of generating up to 10,000 lux, easily capable of sweeping away those winter blues!

Here at Bodilight, all our sunbeds are cutting edge and offer effective SAD light therapy. So if you are lacking in Christmas cheer and are perhaps conscious that you may be suffering from some of the above symptoms, give us a call and our staff can support you to get you a dose of the light therapy you may need. You can also improve your mood during the holidays by eating a healthy diet, getting regular sleep and exercise. Joining a support group where you talk to people with similar experiences to yours can also help greatly.

IMPORTANT: If symptoms persist for long periods then please consult your doctor as you may need to seek specialist mental health help. If the feelings of sadness at this time of year are accompanied by suicidal thoughts, call 999 immediately or go to Accident and Emergency to seek help.

Useful links:

Sunbeds and UV exposure: Can they elevate mood?