Shorter Hours of Sunlight Causes Depression

By: Scott Meyers

Amongst the many different causes of depression, one that greatly affects the mood and creates depression is called Seasonal Affective Disorder (also known as SAD). SAD can and should be treated. SAD treatment can have a dramatic effect on a person, lifting the physical causes of depression. Therapy for SAD is actually fairly straightforward. Researchers claim that ten percent of depressives' condition is primarily caused by Seasonal Affective Disorder. This article deals with the causes and treatment for SAD.

What causes Seasonal Affective Disorder? It is a depression that is directly related to the seasons and how much sunlight the person is exposed to. As the days get shorter these people suffer from the lack of light and changes in their body clock. The worst months for those suffering from SAD differ by latitude, but can start as early as September in the Northern countries, and can end as late as April as the days are growing longer and there is more sunlight available.

The symptoms of SAD are similar to most other mood disorders. The person will have no motivation to do anything. They can feel tired all the time but generally don't sleep very well. They will have an increase in the amount of sweets that they want to eat, frequently eating so sugar that they begin to put on weight. There will be a decrease in their interest in sex. The person will be irritable, sad, feel worthless, sufferer from low self-esteem and may withdraw from friends and family. This feeling of depression will last all through the shorter daylight time unless something is done.

The exact reason that this occurs is not clear and research continues to try to better understand this phenomenon. SAD is believed to be related to the levels of serotonin and melatonin in the body that are imbalanced by the diminished hours of sunlight. There are a few ways to improve this imbalance. The best ways are natural. For example a person should try to spend more time outside during the day. Exercising outside is a great way to help reduce SAD-caused depression. Exercise releases endorphins, which naturally make the depressive feel better. If one combines exercise and exposure to more sunlight, one is on his way to an improvement in mood.

Phototherapy is another option. A mere two hours of daily exposure to phototherapy treatments can make a huge difference to a person's mood. Most phototherapy is done at night, but for those who suffer more serious bouts of SAD, there are also dawn simulators; these will actually simulate a day's worth of sunlight during the morning hours.

Antidepressants are another method of helping those dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder along with the phototherapy sessions. Most people with this depressive disorder find that one treatment or a combination will help them get through this problem until the days are once again longer, and the amount of natural sunlight increases.

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