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SAD Light Therapy


Our moods are like the seasons, transient like waves, constantly changing, and for some people their moods happen to change with the seasons.  In the late autumn or winter they start to feel more lethargic and want to hibernate, and during the end of spring or early summer they begin to feel more energetic and exuberant. This type of seasonal change in moods is recognized as a type of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.). During the winter months, when people get up in the morning it is dark, and when they come home from work, it is still dark.  We don’t get enough natural sunlight.  This causes a depletion of vitamin D, which is known as the sunshine vitamin,but we need sunshine to make Vitamin D.  In Ireland we are particularly susceptible to S.A.D because we are located in the higher latitude of the northern hemisphere.


The Irish winter is grey and gloomy which has an intense effect on our body clocks.  When there isn’t enough natural light, our circadian rhythms fail to produce the hormones that help us to feel alert and energetic.  The circadian rhythm regulates digestion, appetite, energy levels, sleep and mood.  When this is not working effectively it can result in Seasonal Affective Disorder. Women tend to suffer from S.A.D more than men, but when men do suffer from it; their symptoms are inclined to be severe. A decrease in sunlight can diminish serotonin levels, so this can be another contributing factor for S.A.D.  People who have a relative who suffers from a type of depression may be more susceptible to suffering from it. Surprisingly younger people are more prone to getting S.A.D than older people.

Do you suffer from S.A.D?

  • Irritability
  • Low mood
  • Tiredness or low energy
  • Not wanting so socialise
  • Hypersensitivity to rejection
  • Heavy feeling in the arms or legs
  • Oversleeping
  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
  • Weight gain



However there is light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak!  A type of therapy called ‘Light therapy’ has proven to very beneficial for mimicking natural light.  Light therapy won’t cure S.A.D, but it will help to alleviate the symptoms.  You can purchase a light therapy box from Boots chemist.  When you are exposing yourself to the light, ensure your eyes are open, but don’t look directly at the light.  The best time to perform a light therapy session is early in the morning, to set you up for the day! Most people do the therapy for about 15 minutes initially, and then they might build it up to 30 minutes or an hour.  Everyone is different though so listen to your body and see what works best for you!

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