Friday, January 30, 2009

How texting could help the seasonally depressed

Overcoming those winter blues ...

"The days may be getting gradually longer, but for those who suffer depression from the winter darkness a new scheme which relies on text messaging, could help relieve their symptoms.

Waking up in the dark and returning from work in the dark is enough to get anyone a bit down but for some it is more serious than a bit of winter blues.

Victoria Osborne, 63, finds the colder months in the UK too much to deal with, and tries instead to escape to sunnier shores in order to avoid her depression during this time of year.

"In the winter I just don't want to be here. Last year I went to New Zealand from November to March. This November I went to Cyprus. I find it's like building up a resistance ahead of the winter."

This winter depression is more commonly known as SAD - seasonal affective disorder.

According to the NHS, almost one in 50 people in the UK has the condition. The worst months are from January to March - but can start as early as September.

Those who suffer complain of a variety of symptoms including total lethargy, problems sleeping and mood swings.

In a project about to be piloted in Cornwall, it is hoped a simple alert by text - or e-mail or voice message - could help.

In this three-month trial 200 volunteers who have been assessed by a psychological therapist, are being given a portable light box and some self-help information.

Be prepared

SAD is not triggered by short days, so much as gloomy conditions. So on a sunny day in mid-winter someone with SAD may not feel as bad as they do during a heavily overcast day in March. But the condition can be eased by exposure to a light box which emits an intense brightness.

Under the pilot project, alerts are sent to participants before gloomy days warning them to spend 20 minutes in front of their light box, and to read the accompanying advice that day.

This should help them to prepare for the dark weather and know what to expect when they draw the curtains."    (Continued via BBC, Textually.org)    [Ergonomics Resources]

Lightbox - Ergonomics

Lightbox

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