Seeing the Light on Sunless Days
Karen had lived in central California her entire life. But when she received her portion of a family inheritance, she was eager to see how much farther her home-buying dollars would go in the Portland, Oregon area. Her family warned her that it rained a lot more frequently in the Pacific Northwest and might be depressing, but she was undeterred. She packed up her life in California and moved into a spacious home on the outskirts of Portland.
Within two months of her move, she was depressed and miserable. “It rains here ALL THE TIME,” she cried while on the phone with her sister. When her sister reminded her that she’d been warned about this, she responded, “No. You don’t get it. IT RAINS CONSTANTLY. ALL THE TIME.”
What Karen was experiencing was Seasonal Affect Disorder Syndrome (SADS), though in her case, it wasn’t just seasonal. She was experiencing depression from sun deprivation all year round. Though people can and do adapt to reduced sunlight, the reasons behind SADS are not fully understood. But research has shown that increased sunlight reduces levels of melatonin, a neurotransmitter hormone, in the brain. In people with SADS, it is believed that melatonin levels, which are normally higher at night, become abnormally high earlier in the day.
So is there a way to bottle sunshine and take it with you to a grayer climate? Maybe. One of the most promising natural remedies for SADS is bright light therapy. Bright light therapy involves exposing oneself to a fluorescent light panel of varying intensities for periods of time throughout the day. These lights come in a variety of sizes, intensities and complexities. They can be purchased online, in many mainstream drugstores and health food stores.
Have you every experienced SADS?
If so what did you do to overcome these feelings?