How to Beat the Winter Blues

Is there anything worse than waking up for class on a dreary day in the middle of January? It’s freezing outside, there’s no sunlight to be found anywhere, and you’re completely miserable. This is a struggle that just about everyone has gone through at some point. There’s an actual name for it as well: winter depression.

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Winter depression, another name for seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is caused by a variety of factors. These include lack of sunlight, changes in the air we breathe, and changes in the chemical makeup of our brains (WebMD). It’s difficult to ascertain just how many people are affected by this disorder as most cases likely go unreported, but estimates say the number is in the millions (TechHive). There are many symptoms of SAD, as depression of any kind can manifest itself in a multitude of ways. Some symptoms of winter specific SAD include feeling lethargic, insomnia, weight gain, and even considering or committing suicide (MayoClinic). There are several ways of treating SAD, including medication and exposure to artificial sunlight. No matter how treatment is sought, it is important to try to beat the winter depression however possible.

One new treatment that has people buzzing is the Life Light. Created by students at the NuVu school in Massachusetts, the Life Light (pictured below) is a set of bulbs that goes on a window, covered by see through drapes. The result is the appearance of real sunshine coming into the consumer’s house. While it obviously isn’t actual sunlight, the light shining combined with the placebo effect of it coming through the window makes it very possible that this invention could treat the seasonal depression of many sufferers (TechHive).

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In summary, winter depression is a disorder that affects millions across the globe. In many cases, it’s not terribly serious and can be solved with some fresh air and the knowledge that spring is just around the corner. But for some, it’s much more serious and can even be life threatening. In those cases, light therapy, medication, or the Life Light may be the only way to help pull yourself out of the funk.

References

http://www.webmd.com/depression/features/seasonal-affective-disorder#1
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/basics/symptoms/con-20021047
http://www.techhive.com/article/3095329/smart-appliance/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad-impacts-millions-these-high-school-age-inventors-have-an-antidote.html

Pictures

http://www.lawyerswithdepression.com/articles/dont-let-the-sun-go-down-on-me-seasonal-affective-disorder-and-depression-during-the-winter/
https://cambridge.nuvustudio.com/studios/open-innovation-ii-spring-2016/smile-shade#tab-portfolio

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