Fending Off Depression Symptoms in Winter
Try this winter game plan to ease symptoms of depression.
See the Light to Ease Winter Depression Symptoms continued...
A technique called "dawn simulation" -- in which a light is
programmed to turn on early in the morning in your bedroom -- can also help,
Light boxes are widely sold over the Internet and exposure to them can help.
When buying one, get advice from your doctor and choose bigger ones -- one that
is at least 1 foot by 1.5 feet, Rosenthal says. These larger boxes have more
supporting research, he says.
Patients sit in front of the light boxes daily for a specified amount of
time. "Using light in the morning for a half hour to an hour is very
effective," says Stephen Josephson, PhD, a psychologist in New York City
and associate professor at Cornell University Medical School and Columbia
University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York.
Getting bright light in the morning is best, says Al Lewy, MD, PHD, a
professor of psychiatry at Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, a
veteran researcher in the field.
Best time and amount? "As soon as you wake up, for at least a half
hour," Lewy says. There is a subgroup of patients, however, who may do
better with bright light in the evening. It's trial and error, he
Light therapy and dawn simulation together produce results equal to that
given by antidepressants, according to a team of researchers from the
University of North Carolina, who reviewed the results of 13 published studies
and reported the findings in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
Consider Melatonin to Help Your Body Clock
In his research, Lewy has also found that most people with seasonal winter
depression respond best not only to bright light exposure in the morning but
also to a low dose of the hormone melatonin in the afternoon to reset their
body clocks to normal.
The melatonin dose and timing should be calculated by a doctor familiar with
the research. Lewy has found that about 29% of patients do better taking the
melatonin in the morning instead of the afternoon.