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Author Topic: What wavelengths of light can be used to treat seasonal affective disorder?  (Read 13721 times)

Offline snochamp88

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Does anyone know about treatment of SAD (seasonal affective disorder) through phototherapy? If you do do you know the wavelenths that are used in treatment, and/or some research that either proves or disproves the effectiveness of phototherapy on SAD?

thanks-a-bunch
« Last Edit: 23/06/2009 20:41:59 by chris »


 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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I get really fed up with these ridiculous labels for what are perfectly normal situations. I don't think anyone needed to spend who-knows how much time & money to work out that people feel happier on warm, sunny days than on grey, overcast ones. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is another 1. What's the next 1 going to be? My-hair's-a-mess-today Despondency Syndrome? I-trod-on-a-spider Guilt Complex? Pish & humbug!
 

Offline snochamp88

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haha I used to think so too. But for people who suffer constant seasonal affective disorder, its not just feeling sad on a cloudy day, the condition of depression lasts all winter long, and effects work productivity and relationships. If there is a way to prevent this from happening I'd like to help those people out. Besides it has been proven that this condition is a medical disorder mostlikely caused by an abnormally low amount of Vitamin D. Not only does the hormone Vitamin D produced by the sun control mood, but the rapidity with which messages to the brain are sent, and it also regulates the amount of calcium in a person's bloodstream. Without proper amounts of calcim other health problems arise. So I'm not just intersted in this for the people who diagnose themselves with SAD, but I would like to help those who have a proven medical disorder.

thnks-a-bunch
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Snochamp - I appreciate that it's real but it's nothing vitamin tablets or a good session under a sun-lamp won't cure. I also feel that there's an element of self-fulfilling prophecy here too. People are convinced it's horrible weather that makes them feel bad so they are more inclined to feel bad when the weather's horrible. That makes them even more convinced that they're right & so on.
I still think a lot of these so-called syndromes or disorders are nothing more than what people in the past have said "Oh, just buck up" to. But, of course, if it's got a medical-sounding name it's easier to use as an excuse to get a few days off work.
 

Offline rabeldin

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I don't want to reinforce the rush to the tropics, but I don't think I've ever met anyone with SAD in Puerto Rico.

R A Beldin,
Improbable Statistician
 

Offline snochamp88

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"but it's nothing vitamin tablets or a good session under a sun-lamp won't cure." - All that I am looking for is an experiment to find the most effective type of sunlamp or lightbulb or something. I agree most that this is not a horrible medical disorder and there are a lot more pressing issues in medicine. However, if there is a quick fix for this minor issue I'd like to help people find it.
 

Offline memasa

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quote:
I also feel that there's an element of self-fulfilling prophecy here too.


SAD can be a real problem, especially here in the north. In Finland "kaamos[aika]", closest equivalent "polar night"; "period of winter darkness", lasts little over a month, and I can assure you it can really depress you.


"Nothing is certain but death and taxes."
Benjamin Franklin in 1789
« Last Edit: 10/07/2005 14:38:33 by memasa »
 

Offline Andrew K Fletcher

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Seasonal Affective Disorder makes a lot of sense to me
Just like plants and trees lose their leaves due to impaired circulation, caused by high humidity, excessive rainfall, and an absence of warmth and sunlight, it also has an impact on ourselves, after all, many of the illnesses that plague us are usually epidemics by winter time. Foot and mouth disease for instance rears its ugly head every time we experience prolonged excessive rainfall followed by plummeting temperatures. Maybe it’s the weather that lowers the animals resistance to infections which are always here and will always be here. They don’t just get blown in on a wind.

I was researching multiple sclerosis some time ago and sent out a questionnaire to well over a hundred people and the responses were staggering, indicating high prevalence’s of M.S. in river valley and coastal areas and much lower levels of m.s. in more elevated areas. In fact, some people with multiple sclerosis who were able to get to the top of a mountain by either car or railway, found that many of their symptoms disappeared and that they could walk normally without sticks, yet when they got back down to sea level, their symptoms came back as quick as they left.

My work was with modifying their sleeping posture to see if it made a difference to them. The results again where compelling.

Which brings me to the light therapy model.

I believe today that the light therapy only works because the sleeper is interrupted and sat upright in order to receive the therapy. This postural change will inevitably be of immense benefit to anyone with any kind of neurological problem, as sleeping flat for prolong periods is known to cause the nervous system to degenerate. Nasa for instance have used prolonged horizontal bed rest to induce many of the symptoms that astronauts experience in micro-gravity!

So, the only way to determine whether light or posture is making the difference is to do a “proper controlled study” not some hog-washed lash up study introducing several paradigms to the subjects without taking account of the postural changes.

Andrew


"The explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is most likely to be correct."
K.I.S. "Keep it simple!"
 

Offline snochamp88

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Is there somewhere I can read more of your research? It sounds prevalent to what I want to do.

thnx a bunch

Rachael
 

Offline anthony

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There are currently 1130 papers covering, or partially covering SAD according to SciFinder. Four abstracts that caught my eye.

Bright light therapy in seasonal affective disorder - does it suffice?     Pjrek, Edda; Winkler, Dietmar; Stastny, Jurgen; Konstantinidis, Anastasios; Heiden, Angela; Kasper, Siegfried.    Department of General Psychiatry,  University Hospital for Psychiatry,  Vienna,  Austria.    European Neuropsychopharmacology  (2004),  14(4),  347-351.

Abstract

Bright light therapy (BLT) has been proposed as treatment of choice for seasonal affective disorder (SAD).  However, conventional antidepressants have also been found to be effective in this condition.  We examd. the psychopharmacol. medication in a clin. sample of 553 SAD patients, who had been treated with BLT, to assess the importance of drug treatment and to critically question the effectiveness of BLT.  Forty-nine percent of our patients received psychopharmacol. treatment and about one third (35.4%) was treated with antidepressants, suggesting that BLT does not suffice as only antidepressant regimen for all SAD patients.  Furthermore, our results show that only few patients with bipolar affective disorder were willing to accept long-term medication.  Opposed to treatment guidelines, patients with several depressive episodes did not receive antidepressant maintenance medication or mood stabilizers more often than patients with only a few episodes.

Light therapy for seasonal affective disorder in primary care: randomised controlled trial.     Comment in: Br J Psychiatry. 2001 Sep;179:270. PubMed ID: 11532811    Wileman S M; Eagles J M; Andrew J E; Howie F L; Cameron I M; McCormack K; Naji S A  British journal of psychiatry; journal of mental science  (2001 Apr),  178 311-6.  

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Studies of light therapy have not been conducted previously in primary care.  AIMS: To evaluate light therapy in primary care.  METHOD: Fifty-seven participants with seasonal affective disorder were randomly allocated to 4 weeks of bright white or dim red light.  Baseline expectations for treatment were assessed.  Outcome was assessed with the Structured Interview Guide for the Hamilton Depression Scale, Seasonal Affective Disorder Version.  RESULTS: Both groups showed decreases in symptom scores of more than 40%.  There were no differences in proportions of responders in either group, regardless of the remission criteria applied, with around 60% (74% white light, 57% red light) meeting broad criteria for response and 31% (30% white light, 33% red light) meeting strict criteria.  There were no differences in treatment expectations.  CONCLUSIONS: Primary care patients with seasonal affective disorder improve after light therapy, but bright white light is not associated with greater improvements.  

Bright light treatment of winter depression: a placebo-controlled trial.     Comment in: Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1998 Oct;55(10):861-2. Eastman C I; Young M A; Fogg L F; Liu L; Meaden P M    

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Bright light therapy is the recommended treatment for winter seasonal affective disorder (SAD).  However, the studies with the best placebo controls have not been able to demonstrate that light treatment has a benefit beyond its placebo effect.  METHODS: Ninety-six patients with SAD completed the study.  Patients were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 treatments for 4 weeks, each 1.5 hours per day: morning light (average start time about 6 AM), evening light (average start about 9 PM), or morning placebo (average start about 6 AM).  The bright light (approximately 6000 lux) was produced by light boxes, and the placebos were sham negative-ion generators.  Depression ratings using the Structured Interview Guide for the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, SAD version (SIGH-SAD) were performed weekly.  RESULTS: There were no differences among the 3 groups in expectation ratings or mean depression scores after 4 weeks of treatment.  However, strict response criteria revealed statistically significant differences; after 3 weeks of treatment morning light produced more of the complete or almost complete remissions than placebo.  By 1 criterion (24-item SIGH-SAD score <50% of baseline and < or =8), 61% of the patients responded to morning light, 50% to evening light, and 32% to placebo after 4 weeks of treatment.  CONCLUSIONS: Bright light therapy had a specific antidepressant effect beyond its placebo effect, but it took at least 3 weeks for a significant effect to develop.  The benefit of light over placebo was in producing more of the full remissions.

Seasonal affective disorder: an overview.     Magnusson Andres; Boivin Diane    Department of Psychiatry, Ullevaal University Hospital, Oslo, Norway. Chronobiology international  (2003 Mar),  20(2),  189-207.

Abstract

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a condition of regularly occurring depressions in winter with a remission the following spring or summer.  In addition to depressed mood, the patients tend to experience increased appetite and an increased duration of sleep during the winter.  SAD is a relatively common condition, affecting 1-3% of adults in temperate climates, and it is more prevalent in women.  The pathological mechanisms underlying SAD are incompletely understood.  Certain neurotransmitters have been implicated; a dysfunction in the serotonin system in particular has been demonstrated by a variety of approaches.  The role of circadian rhythms in SAD needs to be clarified.  The phase-delay hypothesis holds that SAD patients' circadian rhythms are delayed relative to the sleep/wake or rest/activity cycle.  This hypothesis predicts that the symptoms of SAD will improve if the circadian rhythms can be phase-advanced.  There is some experimental support for this.  SAD can be treated successfully with light therapy.  In classical light therapy, the SAD sufferer sits in front of a light box, exposed to 2000-10,000 lux for 30-120 min daily during the winter.  Other forms of light treatments, pharmacotherapy, and other therapies are currently being tested for SAD.

IN OTHER WORDS:

Although SAD is well accepted in the scientific community as being an illness or group of illnesses, light therapy is as controversal for scientists as for other people. It's very easy to scoff at but there is a lot of interest. Certainly given the evidence it would be best to use it in addition to antidepressants, and certainly not instead of. Due to the huge amount of literature I can't do better than this I'm afraid.
« Last Edit: 29/07/2005 07:02:32 by anthony »
 

Offline snochamp88

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Thank you very much! The information was extremely useful. :)
 

Offline memasa

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What about vitamins and seasonal affective disorder? Naturally, vitamin D comes to mind...

I just noticed you already discussed vitamins. [:I] Does anyone have more specific information on them and SAD?

NO ADVERTISING, PLEASE!!! [V]
« Last Edit: 13/08/2005 21:13:36 by memasa »
 

Offline MissB

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I used to suffer from SAD when I lived in NY. By February I was depressed, irritable and hated life. As a grad student this got in the way of my schoolwork. Now that I live in AZ, I never feel depressed or distracted in that way, other than a situational boo hooo once in a while.

As for Narcsissistic PDO? have you ever MET someone with true Narcisissm? It's a dehabilitating disorder. They don't work, they expect everything to be given to them. They are rude, socially outcasts and extremely unpleasant to be around. Everything is about them and what the world owes them. Then there are docs who have the "God" complex <wink>. Which I have seen mostly with highly specialized physicians, psychiatrists. Never ask them anything, you'll be treated like an imbicile.

My biggest issue is ADHD. Most of the kids I know diagnosed are just brats. Do we have a DX for being a brat yet?

MissB
 

Offline snochamp88

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Ok so I know its a couple of months after the fact that you sent out the email, but if you're still reading, some good sources of information about the benefits of certain vitamins include:

Barefoot, Robert R. Barefoot on Coral Calcium: An Elixer of Life? Health Secrets of Coral Okinawa. New Jersey: WellnessPublishing.com, 2001.

Michael F. Hollick of Boston University Medical Center wrote up a paper on Vitamin D entitled:
Vitamin D: A Required Supploement or A Sunshine Hormone?

also: newbielink:http://arbl.cvmbs.colostate.edu/hbooks/pathphys/endocrine/otherendo/vitamind.html [nonactive]

Wall Street Journal "Sun Exposure and Vitamin D" by Robert J. Davis

newbielink:http://www.alhealth.co.uk/services/info/supplements/vitamin_d_d1_d2_1.php [nonactive]

Sorry it took me so long to get these out.

thnx for taking an interest :)

Rachael
 

Offline gabrieljosh

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Just wanna share this... It can be hard to handle symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. SAD is triggered when hours of daylight become less plentiful during the winter months, and can hit people in high latitudes particularly hard. Light therapy is one of the most straightforward and natural solutions for people who suffer from this disorder. When the light mimics outdoor, natural light, it creates a biochemical change in your brain that leads to a positive frame of mind. A particular benefit of this therapy is that the lights are available without a prescription. Also, this style of treatment doesn't usually lead to side effects.
« Last Edit: 02/05/2011 21:44:18 by chris »
 

Offline Hip

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An amazing new treatment for SAD

I discovered an amazing new type of treatment that works extremely well for seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Knowing myself just how miserable SAD can be, I am posting up the details of this treatment I discovered myself in the hope it will help other people with SAD as much as it has helped me.

The treatment simply involves sitting in front of a far infrared ceramic heater, and letting the infrared rays warm you for around 20 minutes or so every day. That's it!

Every time I gave myself a good dose of far infrared like this for around 20 minutes, it would immediately make me feel VERY HAPPY AND ENTHUSIASTIC – like you feel on a hot summer's day – even though in fact it was the middle of a cold, dark, miserable winter, a time when I would normally have winter depression.

The infrared rays work even better if you take off your shirt, sitting two or three feet in front of the infrared heater. I usually have my back facing towards the heater, letting the heat penetrate nice and deeply into my muscles and bones (it helps melt away backaches also). Unlike ultraviolet light, infrared rays are actually healthy for the skin, and your whole body. You may start perspiring a little after 10 minutes in front of this warmth, but this is fine, and a good sign that your are being warmed.

These far infrared ceramic heaters use the same heating elements that you find in regular far infrared saunas. In fact, the treatment method I am describing here is just like having a far infrared sauna, except that you don't enclose yourself in a cabin, but instead bathe directly in healthy infrared rays by sitting right in front of the infrared heater. You can do this in any room in the house. The room air does not get hot, so you breathe easily; but the body soon gets warmed up in these infrared heat rays.

These far infrared ceramic heaters are very cheap compared to buying a home infrared sauna: you can buy an far infrared ceramic heater for around £100 or less. These heaters typically output around 1400 Watts or so. (Note, there are also quartz halogen far infrared heaters that you can buy for around £20, but these do not work as well; you really need the far infrared ceramic heater, as the ceramic type emits a deeper infrared which can penetrate further into the recesses of your body. Also, don't confuse these "far infrared ceramic heaters" with fan heaters that are sometimes called "ceramic heaters".)

I know that SAD is often treated with full spectrum light boxes that are designed to produce bright white light with some ultraviolet light too, but the infrared treatment I am describing has nothing to do with this. You don't shine the infrared rays from the heater into your eyes, but rather let these rays penetrate deep in your body.

Believe me, even in the middle of a dark winter, after just 20 minutes of this infrared treatment, your mood will really soar upwards. You will suddenly find yourself becoming enthusiastic for life, as if it were summertime, rather then being a recluse within your winter blues.

If you know somebody that has a far infrared ceramic heater (many homes and workplaces have them these days), you might ask to borrow it, and try out the treatment described. If it works for you too, then perhaps you can consider getting one yourself.

This far infrared ceramic heater treatment worked like a dream for me, and I think it will benefit anyone with SAD.

What is the mechanism behind this far infrared therapy for SAD? Those with some scientific background may be aware that SAD has been associated with a lack of a factor called BH4 (tetrahydrobiopterin). BH4 is a crucial factor the body needs to make the all important serotonin. Low serotonin causes depression, so when you don't have enough BH4 to make serotonin, you will feel depressed.

Fortunately, far infrared will strongly increase your body BH4 levels, which then increases your serotonin levels, which in turn rapidly banishes your winter blues. So this is how the far infrared ceramic heater treatment most likely works to treat winter blues: by raising BH4 levels.

There are not really any effective dietary supplements or drugs that you can take that substantially increase your BH4 levels, but fortunately the far infrared approach works well.

The summer sun provides an abundance of natural infrared light to make BH4, so all you are doing by sitting in front of your infrared heater is getting the warm, infrared rays that you are so desperately missing during those long, cold winters.

Unfortunately in the northern hemisphere winter is now coming to an end, so you may have to wait until next year to test this infrared treatment method for SAD.

But do try this infrared treatment. It may greatly improve your life.

Please post up your experiences with this treatment, because I would like to see just how well infrared treatment works for other people with SAD.

Note that I am just putting this information up for the benefit of others. I found great improvements in my own SAD using this simple infrared therapy, and I really hope that this treatment works well for everyone with SAD.

15th April 2011.   
 

Offline Hip

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Some makes of infrared ceramic heater are:

[advertising removed by Mod]

They are similar in concept to those special "red light bulbs" that emit warming infrared, but the ceramic infrared bulbs are (a) much more powerful, and (b) emit a much deeper, more penetrative and effective frequency of infrared that those red light bulbs.

I use 400 to 800 Watts when I do this infrared treatment. My heater has three 400 W ceramic bulbs, and I typically have one or two of these switched on. It does not use much electricity, because you only need to do this for 20 minutes a day. That's going to cost only a few cents, if that.

The white (or cream-colored) ceramic bulbs you see on these heaters are basically a solid piece of ceramic "stone" that have electric wires imbedded within them, and the current heats them. But they never get hot enough to glow with visible light, so pretty much all the light is emitted in the deep infrared range.

One possible substitute for the ceramic infrared heater is the quartz (halogen) infrared heater:

newbielink:http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=quartz%20heater&um=1&tbm=isch&biw=1226&bih=765 [nonactive]

These are much cheaper, and are found for sale everywhere. They use a quartz glass tube with a filament inside that heats up to produce infrared heat. However, the infrared light output by these quartz infrared heaters, although equally as powerful as the the ceramic types, is again not so deep in frequency, so I am not sure if it will work as well as the ceramic infrared heaters.

The infrared saunas that have become popular use exactly these ceramic infrared heaters, because ceramic infrared heaters emit the right frequency of infrared.
« Last Edit: 02/05/2011 11:25:32 by peppercorn »
 

Offline chris

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What's the mechanism via which your suggesting that BH4 promotes serotonin synthesis?

Chris
 

Offline Hip

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Hi Chris


BH4 (tetrahydrobiopterin) is a co-factor enzyme, used in conjunction with the enzyme tryptophan hydroxylase, to covert tryptophan into serotonin.

BH4 is the rate-limiting enzyme in this process, meaning that BH4 is the bottleneck that stops the conversion if BH4 is in short supply.

More info on BH4: newbielink:http://www.detoxpuzzle.com/bh4.php [nonactive]
« Last Edit: 03/05/2011 05:16:38 by Hip »
 

Offline Hip

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There is more talk on this experimental use of far infrared to treat SAD on this thread:

newbielink:http://www.dailystrength.org/c/Seasonal_Affective_Disorder/forum/11891055-amazing-new-treatment [nonactive]
 

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