Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Seasonal Affective Disorder - an evolutionary relic?

Friedman offers a succinct summary of information of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), with some interesting facts.
Epidemiological studies estimate that its prevalence in the adult population ranges from 1.4 percent (Florida) to 9.7 percent (New Hampshire).
In one study, patients with SAD
...had a longer duration of nocturnal melatonin secretion in the winter than in the summer, just as with other mammals with seasonal behavior.Why did the normal patients show no seasonal change in melatonin secretion? One possibility is exposure to industrial light, which can suppress melatonin.
...The effects of light therapy are fast, usually four to seven days, compared with antidepressants, which can take four to six weeks to work.
...People are most responsive to light therapy early in the morning, just when melatonin secretion begins to wane, about eight to nine hours after the nighttime surge begins...How can the average person figure that out without a blood test? By a simple questionnaire that assesses “morningness” or “eveningness” and that strongly correlates with plasma melatonin levels. The nonprofit Center for Environmental Therapeutics has a questionnaire on its Web site (www.cet.org).

1 comment:

  1. Is it important to use the light box at a specific time each morning or just sometime in the morning? I found some good advice here too: http://www.howtodothings.com/health-fitness/how-to-deal-with-seasonal-affective-disorder but I think I need a light box...

    I might use it all day because I like them so much - is that a bad idea? And full spectrum or broad spectrum?