Light therapy might help you lose those winter blues

Light therapy might help you lose those winter blues

From Jeri Rockett
Director, Personal Counseling and Testing

Winter blues? Sleep problems? Let there be light!

Personal Counseling and Testing now offers light therapy as one treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a form of depression with symptoms that occur or increase during the winter months.

Although there is no clear cause of SAD, researchers believe it is related to the amount of sunlight you receive. It is more common in northern latitudes, where Minnesota is located, when there is a reduced amount of daylight. This lack of light affects the brain receptors to produce less serotonin and low levels of serotonin are associated with depression.

Some of the symptoms of SAD may include:

  • Depression with fall or winter onset
  • An increase in sleep and daytime tiredness
  • Increase in appetite with weight gain
  • Craving of sweets and carbohydrates
  • Lack of energy
  • Lower quality of rest
  • Lack of interest in things that are normally pleasurable
  • Social withdrawal

Light therapy may help re-set the biological time clock that affects mood. It consists of sitting in front of a light box for a prescribed length of time, typically 20 to 30 minutes. The light box provides full spectrum light.

If you are concerned about SAD, come to Personal Counseling and Testing in Room 356, Murray-Herrick Campus Center, or call (651) 952-6780 for a short assessment to see if light therapy may help you. It's free, quick and confidential.