Monday, December 1, 2008

Don't Be SAD. Be Aware

December is Sadness Awareness Month. During this month when the days grow shorter here in the northern hemisphere, it is time to pay attention to yourself and to your loved ones to check on "sadness" levels. It is now well documented that there are some people - in fact, some estimates put the number at 10 million Americans alone - who predictably experience mood swings, some quite severe, as the amount of daylight diminishes. It is reported that perhaps as much as 75% of reported cases of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affect women. SAD is a very real condition and should not be taken lightly. It is even listed in the American Psychiatric Association's diagnostic manual (DSM-IV).

So, what to do? Symptoms generally occur during Fall as the light changes, and include, greater levels of fatigue, lack of energy, increased cravings for sweets and weight gain. Often these symptoms peak during winter, then begin to subside as spring arrives. For many, the change of seasons is the cure, so clinical treatment is not warranted. Being sure you get outdoors as much as possible can give you some additional ammunition to fight off SAD. More severe and lasting symptoms of depression include loss of sleep and appetite, weight loss and sometimes serious mood swings. When these symptoms last, you should see your doctor. Treatments can include drug therapy. More recently, treatments include adding full spectrum lighting to the environment of those suffering the effects of SAD.

We have taken an interest in this condition at Capabilities through a bit of a back door. As many of you know, we have developed considerable expertise in the field of low vision, providing seminars and access to experts throughout the region. We also carry one of the largest collection of low vision products in the region. Research and experience say that lighting is crucial for those experiencing macular degeneration and other conditions that affect vision. Among the many lighting options we offer, our newest addition is indoor sunshine spiral light bulbs. Indoor Sunshine® bulbs use all the environmentally correct processes of CFLs, the technology that is revolutionizing the manufacture of light bulbs, and uses an additional process to ensure that the light created offers full spectrum lighting, like that of the sun. The creators of these bulbs say, Change your Light. Change your Life.® We are finding this to be so.

Not only are those with low vision challenges attracted to these bulbs, but everyone who sees the stark comparisons (offered by our in-store displays) between these bulbs and the typical CFLs in the marketplace, wants to give them a try. Because the light is closer to the full spectrum range of sunlight, the overall effect is greater levels of illumination. Research continues to support the claims, too, that full spectrum lighting offers some of the additional benefits of sunshine, including greater production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps control mood. There are numerous studies underway that explore other benefits of full spectrum lighting. The key for now, however, is that you do not need to have been diagnosed with SAD or a condition affecting your vision to enjoy the benefits of indoor sunshine lighting.

Give us your story of being sunshine deprived and its effects.

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