Depression Caused by Winter Weather and Being Stuck Indoors
Are you experiencing depression caused by winter weather? Are you stuck indoors, unable to experience the joys of sunshine? Winter weather that traps you inside can wear on your spirits and have you depressed in no time.
A Health Poll on weather.com asked: Do you tend to feel depressed during dark winter days? 76.3% said YES, . . . I’m definitely in a better mood when the sun is shining. 22.8% said NO, . . . seasonal changes usually don’t affect my mood.
An estimated 25 million Americans notice significant changes in mood and behavior as the seasons change. Another 10 million are so seriously affect that they find it difficult or impossible to maintain their normal lifestyle.
Plagued by fatigue, lethargy, increased appetite, cravings for starches and sweets, weight gain, social withdrawal, and feelings of depression, these people fit the criteria for the medical condition, Seasonal Affective Disorder (“SAD”). More than twenty years of clinical research support the diagnosis of SAD (Bipolar or Major Depressive Disorder, Recurrent, with Seasonal Pattern, by DSM-IV criteria. Those with milder symptoms are said to have Winter Blues, also known as Subsyndromal SAD (“S-SAD”). Both conditions are caused by chemical changes in the brain triggered by lower light exposure.
Exposure to light much brighter than typical indoor light is the most effective treatment for keeping symptoms at bay. Cold winter weather will keep people indoors for much of the day, limiting their exposure to bright sunshine. Being stuck indoors anytime during the year can rob you of your energy and leave you in a funk.
It has been established scientifically, that light is the major synchronizer of the brain’s biological clock. Light deprivation in any form can cause serious problems for people. Bad weather, under illuminated indoor environment, and living in areas that are constantly cloudy are a good example. It is not a surprise to see light as a practical treatment for mood disorders like depression and sleep problems.
Research proves that morning light therapy can indeed help with depressive disorders not just in the winter.
People with SAD can find fast relief, within 3–5 days, with SunBox fixtures specifically designed to produce light bright enough to reverse the process. Bright light therapy signal a springtime sunrise to the brain with light 10-20 times brighter than indoor room lighting. With only one 15-30 minute session per day of 10,000 lux of white light, most people notice significant improvement, allowing them to lead normal lives in the fall and winter months. Patients should continue use with bright light treatment at least until their symptoms fully resolve. Patients may be able to reduce the duration of daily treatment once response occurs. Clinicians should most often individualize the dose of light to balance the treatment.
Don’t let old man winter steal your good mood and energy. Bright light therapy through light boxes can bring joy to patients and their clinicians who watch how fast symptoms improve. Do something about it today and get your smile back!