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Sunless Depression

July 21, 2010

Its weird when the sun isn’t out

According to

In 1984, a psychiatrist at NIMH, Norman Rosenthal, published a paper on the use of bright light therapy in patients with this disorder. Since then, a large number of well-designed studies have confirmed and refined these findings. Researchers are still investigating mode by which bright light can lift depression or reset a sleep cycle. One theory is that an area of the brain, near the visual pathway, the suprachiasmatic nucleus responds to light by sending out a signal to suppress the secretion of a hormone called melatonin. Brain studies suggest that there is impairment serotonin function in neurons leading to the suprachiasmatic nucleus.

Initial theories suggested a pathway from the retina to the suprachiasmatic nucleus. However some recent research indicated that bright light applied to the back of an individual’s knee could shift human circadian rhythms. (Daily sleep-wake cycle) This suggests that the bloodstream, not just the neurons of the visual pathways, might mediate the biological clock.

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