Device shines light in ears to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder

Weather She Wrote

It’s that time of year when fall melts into winter. With 5 p.m. sunsets and erratic temperature swings, it can get downright depressing.

If you’re feeling this too, it’s not unusual. Many of us deal with a mood shift during the colder, darker days of winter. You may feel more lethargic and just down overall.

Some call it the winter blues; others call it Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.

It’s a form of depression that usually starts late fall or early winter and eventually goes away during the sunnier days of spring and summer.

And before you say, “But this is the South!” SAD doesn’t just affect people in northern climates. SAD affects people all over the world. It’s estimated 10 million Americans suffer from it.

Treatment for the seasonal affective disorder may include light therapy, medications and psychotherapy. In light therapy or phototherapy, you sit a few feet from a special lightbox. It basically mimics outdoor light and is supposed to cause a change in brain chemicals linked to mood.

When I worked in Michigan, we would go days and days without any sunlight. Several of my TV viewers would go to the tanning bed just to get a little light. Some even rely on this “therapy” today.

But now there is something new — the HumanCharger.

It’s a new gadget that shines light through your skull.

Invented in Finland, it’s a calibrated white-light-emitting device that stimulates the photosensitive receptors of the brain.

In other words, it’s a pair of earbuds. They shine a light through your ear canals, tissues and skull, directly to the parts of the brain that are sensitive to light.

The device is about the size of an old-school iPod Nano, and you only have to wear the earbuds for 12 minutes a day.

The manufacturers claim the device will increase your alertness, improve your energy levels, enhance your mood and your cognitive performance. And all of this is supposed to happen within about five days of use.

You can also use it to deal with jet lag. The white light is UV-free, so it’s said to be safer than relying on real sunlight.

While we get our fair share of sunny days in Savannah, I’m considering adding this to my Santa list.

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