Brain Mind and Behavior

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An Analysis on Seasonal Affective Disorder and the effects of Climate and Lighting on Emotion
Brain, Mind & Behavior

"Seasonal affective disorder also known as winter depression, winter blues, summer depression, summer blues, or seasonal depression, is a mood disorder in which people who have normal health throughout most of the year experience depressive symptoms in the winter or summer, spring or autumn year after year." In the DSM-IV, it is not characterized as a unique mood disorder but considered a 'specifier of major depression'. (Stephen, 2007) Is it not more than a convenience that the year’s most joyous holidays occur on the onset of the winter solstice? The impact of light on emotion has been shown and linked by numerous surveys and tests in the past. Low or dark lighting has been shown to cause eye fatigue and headaches. Absence of natural daylight triggers depression and poor immune defenses. Insufficient lighting is linked to emotional stress and to physical ailments. Bright light stimulates emotions, while low levels of illumination quiet the senses. On the other hand, an excess of unnatural light does not replace the calming effects of natural daylight. Too much artificial light and overly-bright rooms hurt the eyes and make one feel jittery. (Fisher E. , 2004) The impact of lighting on mood and cognition has been difficult to demonstrate because people in industrialized countries, on average, spend 93 percent of their time indoors, making them largely disconnected from the impact of outside light. Many people can just turn on artificial lighting to get the same general effect of daylight. Most people feel an increased sense of sadness in the winter, with the most extreme example being among those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a recurrent depression with typical onset during the fall or winter. (Stephen, 2007) Researchers…...

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