Curing Winter Depression With Light

by Thilaka Ravi on  November 9, 2011 at 6:46 PM Mental Health News   - G J E 4
With winter round the corner, the favorite time of the year for some, is also the season of depression for many others due to shorter days and the reduction in natural daylight.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects millions of people all over the world every single year.
Curing Winter Depression With Light
Curing Winter Depression With Light

It is caused when the brain does not receive enough daylight, which is essential to trigger production of serotonin, a hormone important for regulating mood.

However, now scientists have come up with a new way of tackling seasonal affective disorder (SAD), that they say cures it in just eight minutes a day.

The technique involves beaming light directly into the brain through the ears.

It is based on the discovery that the brain itself is just as sensitive to daylight as the eyes, with 'photoreceptive' parts using it to help set our biological clocks.

At least 18 brain regions contain light-sensitive opsin proteins, which are also found in eyes, discovered scientists at Oulu University in Finland, a country with high rates of SAD.

They have been working with a company called Valkee to come up with an iPod-like device for delivering a daily dose of artificial sunshine through a pair of tiny torches hidden in earbud headphones.

A clinical trial in 89 volunteers with SAD found 74 to 79 per cent were totally cured of depressive symptoms, when they used the device for between eight and 12 minutes a day.

Most benefited from having their session about an hour after waking up, he said, leading to boosted levels of the 'day hormone' serotonin, and reduced levels of the 'night hormone' melatonin, involved with sleep.

The results are being presented at the International Forum for Mood and Anxiety Disorders in Budapest.

Source: ANI

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