Every year approximately 2 million people are affected by SAD (seasonal affective disorder). SAD is sometimes known as winter depression because although the symptoms often begin in the autumn as the days start get shorter, they’re most severe during December, January and February. In most cases the symptoms of SAD begin to improve in the spring before eventually disappearing.
The exact cause of SAD isn’t fully understood, but it’s thought to be linked to reduced exposure to sunlight during the shorter days of the year.
Sunlight can affect some of the brain’s chemicals and hormones. However, it’s not clear what this effect is. One theory is that light stimulates a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which controls mood, appetite and sleep. These things can affect how you feel.
In people with SAD, a lack of sunlight and a problem with certain brain chemicals stops the hypothalamus working properly. The lack of light is thought to affect the production of the hormones melatonin and serotonin; as well as the body’s circadian rhythm (its internal clock, which regulates several biological processes during a 24-hour period).
Many have reported excellent results from using daylight bulbs in their homes during the day. These bulbs give a natural looking white light which is quite different from the usual warm white of regular bulbs. Crafters have used them for years to avoid eye strain whilst doing intense work. You need to see them to get a feel for the difference.
The time to start using these bulbs is from September on a regular daily basis in areas that you spend most of your time. In the office they can contribute to a healthier work environment, at home you can use them first thing in the morning and when you get home from work or other activities. In the morning you will find they make you feel more bright and alert in yourself. They are an investment but will last for years and improve your sense of wellbeing.