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Green Hills with Blue Sky

Shedding Some Light on Depression & the Winter Blues

November 19, 2009 

     Although this may sound like the name of a rock band, depression is not an easy tune to carry when it’s on your own shoulders. I know; I have been there during a very stressful time in my own life several years ago. What helped me through that rough patch was the right antidepressant, talk therapy, and the support of those my loved ones. Medication to alter the biochemistry in the body and a good therapist to help a person sort out the stressors in their lives is still considered a winning combination, and one that I often employ for clients who are experiencing clinical depression.

  There are many different opinions about the causes of depression and anxiety disorders, but it is best to say that they are a combination of many factors, such as organic elements  ( having genetic predisposition) and environmental stressors.     One of the most common stressors in our Northern latitudes is the lack of sunlight in our Winter lives. Although  we all get a bit discouraged  when darkness invades our schedules at 5pm or earlier, and when people  go to work in the dark  and come home with the headlights on, they do tend to sigh a bit more.  While many Northwesterner’s consider this to be  a great season to curl up by the fire with a good book in their cozy home, or hit the ski slopes, that is not the case for others. Some people are so adversely affected with SAD (Seasonal Affect Disorder) that it really takes the wind out of their sails.  It is not overly simplistic to say that what they need most is more LIGHT!

   For those who are affected by our dark days, I recommend an experimental  trip to Seattle’s Indoor Sun Shoppe in Fremont. It may well be a very enLIGHTENING excursion for them. One of the store’s  specialties is Bright Light Therapy, a known treatment for people suffering from depression and SAD. During Light Therapy, a person sits or works near a light therapy box that gives off a bright full spectrum light mimicking natural outdoor lighting. Exposure to this kind of treatment is thought to alter a person’s circadium rhythms and support the body’s  natural release of melatonin. Together these can cause a biochemical change in your brain that helps reduce SAD and other depressive symptoms.   Check it out at (www.indoorsun.com, or visit the store in person on a gloomy day, head to the back corner on the right and try out a dose of sunlight. See how it feels, maybe this is what will help you through the next few months.

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