Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Daylight Savings Time and SAD: Get Your HappyLite!


Okay, folks, we’ve got two days until Armageddon for depressives: Daylight Savings Time. Time to pull out the HappyLites!

In case you think I’m making up all this stuff about less light leading to depression, especially in the winter months, I will quote a woman with much more medical knowledge and expertise than me: Karen Swartz, M.D., Director of Clinical Programs at the Johns Hopkins Mood Disorders Center, and one of the physicians who evaluated me when I was severely depressed in March of 2006.


Here’s what she says in a special report as part of the Fall 2007 Johns Hopkins Depression and Anxiety Bulletin called “Getting Relief From Light Therapy”:

Some people experience episodes of depression only during the winter months, particularly January and February, when there is less sunlight–thus the name “winter depression,” or seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Typically, symptoms of depression peak in the winter and recede in the spring. 

As seasons change, so does the amount of daily sunlight, which in turn causes changes in the body’s internal biological clock, known as circadian rhythm. This rhythm is a 24-hour cycle that affects our eating and sleeping patterns, brain wave activity, hormone production, and other biological activities. In some people, less daily sunlight and changes in circadian rhythm can bring about depression.


One theory is that the relative lack of sunlight during these times may alter brain levels of certain mood-related chemicals, for example, increasing levels of the hormone melatonin.

People with SAD often eat and sleep excessively, crave sugary or starchy foods, and have a full remission in the spring and summer when more daily sunlight is available.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Mary Anne Thompson

    I have been depressed since before Halloween and the temps just started getting cooler. I usually get down around Thanksgiving and do not even want to talk about Christmas. I HATE that Holiday! Do not celebrate it, get sick of all the red and green stuff in the stores. Satan Clause, the commercialism that the Holiday has become. Jesus is NOT the reason for this season, $$$ is. Anyway, I did get a new Happy Light recently when the one I had dropped and the Verilux bulb broke. Just trying to find a replacement bulb is as expensive as the lights. They have them on sale at Walgreen’s here in Texas right now. Normal price $60 marked down to 1/2 price, then I found one at 75% off and was able to pick it up for $10! that alone made me happy!!! I got mine plugged in, thanks for reminding everyone of SAD and what affects so many of us depressives. I am all set to change my clock back tmrw night, oddly enough my therapy session is tmrw at 3:00, ha!

    love and light(happy light) M.A.

  • http://campusquilts quilts

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  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Deb (OLD FLY GIRL)

    Thanks for reminding us all Therese! I spent many years HATING the holidays too, before I finally decided to break down & buy my Happy Light! I just thought it was some sales gimmick…how could a light make me feel better?! But I am here to testify that the difference that light makes in my winters is nothing short of miraculous! When I go to NH to visit my parents (who keep their home very dark)… I even bring my lamp! By the way, Mary Anne, I found replacement bulbs online. I just ‘Googled’ the lights. Blessings everyone!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Razz2

    I “suffer” with S.A.D. every year but at least now I know what the “heck” is going on and can be a bit more proactive about it. A couple of years ago I bought myself a “happy light” real name “LiteBook” and it made a big difference for me. Although light therapy doesn’t always work for everyone it was something I was willing to try…. the worst that could happen is that I have a 1/2 hr. of sitting in front of my light wool-gathering – LOL.

    Many people confuse these special lights to just a switch to “daylight” bulbs or other similar things. They are NOT. They give you the same amount of “lux” as you’d get if you spent time in sunlight. Google it and you’ll get the full story.

    I LOVE my light and recommend others with similar symptoms to try one. Dealing with my depression and anxiety on a regular basis is challenge enough… in winter it can become unbearable. My little “happy light” isn’t the whole answer but one of a few strategies I put in place to help. You sure don’t have anything to loose by trying one.

    Be good to you – Razz

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment lemonT

    A great post, but it’s not Daylight Savings time that’s coming, it’s going back to Standard time. Actually, I find it better at first because I wake up to natural light and can go out and exercise in the daylight before work, though that continues to diminish until the solstice.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Stacey

    Where do I find a Happy light? :-)

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Veronica

    It is the cold and dark and the heavy clothing and difficult travel here in the east. It is so hard to adjust and then accept. Acceptance does arrive and full speed ahead is the mantra. God Bless.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Judy

    I know this affects some but I live on the West Coast Seattle area and it rains and is dark and gloomy a lot and I have just like thousands of others gotten used to it w/out buying into the whole depression gig. If everyone that lived out here suffered from this we would be in a lot of trouble. Just my 2cents worth. Thanks

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment DEB (OLD FLY GIRL)

    STACEY: I just ‘Googled’ “light for SAD therapy” and a bunch of companies and info came up where you can purchase the lights. I bought mine online about 2 yrs. ago, and it works great!!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Deb

    In honor of the impending daylight savings time, I didn’t get out of bed til 4:15 this afternoon. Hmmmm… if I could just remember which pile of stuff my happy lite is under….

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  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Tammy

    2006…that’s not that long ago and you have a family, right? How do you bounce back and get a positive outlook on life and in control of yours? And how do they handle it when you are depressed? Typically when I’ve had depression it’s been job situation related but also seems I’m most succeptible from November through April. A friend of mine asked if I’d ever had hormone levels checked…I have not, just on prozac, wellbutrin and buspar, and I take medicine for hypothyroidism…have been forgetting lately to take the last one but don’t think that’s the reason Ive been having depressive symptoms this week — didn’t want to get out of bed today and face my life and decisions I have to make about what to do for new full-time work and other personal issues that keep coming back to haunt me. Is it worth getting other hormone levels checked to see if there could be another chemical imbalance triggering the symptoms? I have limited health insurance so any blood tests are going to be costly to me. And lastly, how do you pick yourself up to figure out things in your life when you feel depressed or afraid or lost in life?

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