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Colors Reduce SAD Symptoms

Humans thrive in sunlight, meaning we’re more likely to have struggles related to behavior, mood and even circadian rhythm as the sun sets earlier, temperatures drop and plants wither.

Up to 20 percent of adults can suffer from seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. SAD is a potentially serious condition that requires treatment, like light therapy, to help regulate melatonin production and relieve symptoms.

Studies have shown that colors can have an impact on our mood and how we perceive the world. Color therapy can even be used to relieve anxiety and balance your circadian rhythm.

Circadian rhythms are your body’s internal clock or sleep-wake cycle which responds to changes between light and dark to regulate your sleep, mood, and appetite. The longer nights and shorter days of winter can disrupt your internal clock—leaving you feeling groggy, disoriented, and sleepy at inconvenient times.

The mainstay of winter SAD treatment is light/color therapy which aims to replace the missing daylight of winter by exposing you to bright light that mimics natural outdoor light. Daily exposure can suppress the brain’s secretion of melatonin to help you feel more awake and alert, less drowsy and melancholy.

According to the Mood Disorder Society of Canada, color has been shown to be effective in up to 85 percent of SAD cases. However, the timing and length of exposure needed can vary according to your symptoms and circadian rhythm, so you’ll need guidance from your doctor or mental health professional to find the right light dosage.


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