Most of us feel better when the sun comes out, more optimistic, more energetic and generally happier. The long wet summer gave us little respite this year and now the darker days and colder, longer nights are coming. The reduced light over the winter months can make the world seem a very dreary place.
Many of us feel a bit down and gloomy during the winter months finding it harder to get up in the morning and with less energy during the day. For some people the symptoms are much more severe and can become quite debilitating, causing depression and affecting their ability to carry out daily activities. Stress can be put on relationships and the general malaise can seriously alter their quality of life.
What few people realise is that the winter blues and more severe Seasonal Affective Disorder is the result of low light levels and by supplementing these with bright light from a light box the symptoms can be noticeably reduced or even disappear completely. Often people notice a difference within the first few days of using a light box.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) is thought to affect up to 7% of the population while a milder version, often called the "winter blues", affects many more. S.A.D. has a lot in common with the hibernation cycle of animals and research has shown that this is triggered by a response to decreased light levels. As the days grow shorter and the light becomes less intense, it increases the desire to "hibernate".
The key symptoms of S.A.D. include depression, sleep problems, lethargy, fatigue, anxiety, a craving for sweet foods and carbohydrates, loss of concentration, loss of libido and low mood.