As the days grow darker in the fall and winter, so do our moods. The shift is nature’s way of making us conserve energy for what would naturally be times of scarcity. But of course, most of us do not experience real scarcity in winter, nor do our schedules slow down. We just feel low, and for about 10 percent of us, the low energy is severe enough to be a type of depression called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Symptoms include feelings of hopelessness, low self-esteem, poor concentration, low energy or fatigue, and problems with eating and/or sleeping.
SAD is treated most often in the same way depression is: with medications that have significant and sometime serious side effects. But in 2006, a Canadian study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that light therapy — electrical light boxes that mimic the sun’s rays — is just as effective as Prozac. Last year the Mayo Clinic reported that light therapy “is safe and has few side effects.” So I decided to use myself as a guinea pig and ordered a light box online.
The process was easy, with prices ranging from $120 to $ …
Catherine Auman has frequently appeared as a mental health expert on the national TV show Extra. Her writings have been published in journals, magazines, and books in the US, Finland, and Norway. She has a BA in English Lit and a Certificate in Creative Writing from Berkeley City College.