Winter blues, sleep problems? Let there be light!

Winter blues, sleep problems? Let there be light!

Now that daylight-saving time has ended, Personal Counseling and Testing issues a reminder that it offers light therapy as one treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder.

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 a person receives. It is more common in states located in the northern latitudes, such as Minnesota, where there is a reduced amount of daylight. This affects the brain receptors that produce serotonin, which plays an important role in the regulation of mood.

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 normally are pleasurable
  • Social withdrawal

Light therapy may help reset 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.

Those concerned about symptoms of SAD are invited to stop by Personal Counseling and Testing, Room 356, Murray-Herrick Campus Center, or call (651) 952-6780 to schedule a short assessment to see if light therapy may help. It's free, quick and confidential.