Local research center shines light on seasonal depression


A local research center is studying why the cloudy, rainy weather may be getting you down.

Between a winter that dragged on and cold, rainy days, not everyone is in the best of spirits.

“It just makes you want to get in bed and just put covers over me and stay inside,” Samantha DeLuke, of Troy, said.

And a hint of sun last week was such a tease.

“It gives you so much hope,” Steve Hemberger, of East Greenbush, said.

“It was so beautiful, and then it just went away,” DeLuke said.

There’s a reason for the mood swings, and it has to do with light.

“Light during the day can make you more alert, perkier, less depressed,” Mariana Figueiro said.

Figueiro studies how light impacts the brain as the director of RPI’s Lighting Research Center. Psychologically speaking, she said researchers have proven that being in the dark can make you depressed and tired and being in the light can make you happy.

Anyone can feel the effects but some have more severe reactions and that means they have Seasonal Affective Disorder.

“It starts around October timeframe, and by now, it should be ending because we’re supposed to have bright sunny days,” Figueiro said.

“If you can get outdoors, even on a gloomy day like this, you have enough light to alleviate these depressive symptoms,” RPI Lighting Research Center Professor Mark Rea said.

So hang in there.

“I’m hoping for sunshine really soon and just to be outside and enjoy the weather,” DeLuke said.

According to Web MD, about 11 million people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder every year.

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