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THIRTY-FIVE MILLION PEOPLE WILL SUFFER THIS YEAR FROM 'WINTER DEPRESSION'

 THIRTY-FIVE MILLION PEOPLE WILL SUFFER THIS YEAR
 FROM 'WINTER DEPRESSION'
 ROCKVILLE, Md., July 21, /PRNewswire/ -- Every fall and winter 35 million people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) also known as "winter depression" or "winter blahs." Although SAD has been recognized for some time, it has only recently become more widely understood.
 Most of the research done on SAD has been over the last 10 years. Victims of SAD come from all races, ethnic groups, ages, gender and occupations. The ratio of women to men is 4 to 1. The common age is 20-45, however, SAD has been diagnosed in children as young as 8 or 9. Many families have several members affected, suggesting a genetic connection.
 How do you know if you have SAD? Dr. Norman Rosenthal, a pioneer in research on SAD and author of the book "Seasons of the Mind" (Bantam 1989) has designed a questionnaire designed to help people discover if they have SAD:
 1. Do you find you have less energy than usual?
 2. Do you feel less creative; less productive?
 3. Do you feel sad, down or depressed?
 4. Do you feel less enthusiastic about the future or enjoy life
 less?
 5. Do you need more sleep than usual?
 6. Do you feel you have no control over your appetite or weight?
 Typical SAD sufferers become depressed as winter approaches. They will begin to crave carbohydrates, gain weight, oversleep and become lethargic. They will become anxious and irritable and begin to withdraw socially. Rosenthal theorizes that the pineal gland in the brain releases a hormone, called melatonin, when the body experiences long periods of darkness. The melatonin can cause adverse emotional effects.
 Eight years ago Neal Owens, a SAD sufferer, sought professional help to alleviate these symptoms that were impacting his career as well as his personal and family life. A therapeutic approach employing artificial bright light, which suppresses melatonin secretion, was found to be the most effective and least invasive treatment.
 Bright light treatment, or phototherapy, has become an accepted and recommended approach by the Task Force on Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association, for the treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder. The FDA is now working with the National Institutes of Health who have been studying SAD for over 10 years to list light therapy as a helpful medical device to aid the many sufferers.
 Owens sought to make this treatment available to the 6 percent of the population who acutely suffer from this disorder and to the additional 14 percent who suffer from Sub-Syndromal SAD (winter blahs). Owens, with a colleague, founded The SunBox Company to provide bright light devices called SunBox light units.
 The SunBox light units are specifically designed for therapeutic use by the 35 million people that suffer from seasonal difficulties. An estimated 80 percent of SAD sufferers can be treated effectively with the light units, however, only one-third have actually received any kind of therapy.
 "Two-thirds are living in misery, subject to marital disharmony, job loss, even suicide," said Lewis Judd, M.D., former director of the National Institute of Mental Health.
 Do the lights really work? The Society for Light Treatment and Biological Rhythms -- a not-for-profit international organization dedicated to fostering research, professional development and clinical applications -- states in its information brochure:
 -- "Researchers at medical centers and clinics in both the U.S. and abroad have had much success with light therapy in many hundreds of patients with clear histories of SAD for at least several years. Marked improvement is usually observed within four of five days, if not sooner, and symptoms usually return in about the same amount of time when the lights are withdrawn. Most users therefore maintain a consistent daily schedule beginning, as needed, in fall or winter and usually continuing until spring, when outdoor light becomes sufficient to maintain good mood and high energy. Some people can skip treatments for one to three days, occasionally longer, without ill effect, but most start to slump quickly when treatment is interrupted."
 Recently, the new SunBox high intensity light units have reduced the exposure to as little as 15-30 minutes.
 Today The SunBox Company, whose light units are used in over 150 of the top clinical research centers worldwide, has made a commitment to helping people improve their lighting environment so they can live happier, healthier lives, and the company is taking steps this season to expand that. Free information is available by calling 800-LITE-YOU (548-3968) or by writing the SunBox Company, 1100 Taft St., Rockville, MD 20850.
 -0- 7/21/92
 /NOTE TO EDITORS: SunBox is a registered trademark./
 /CONTACT: Neal Owens, president of The SunBox Company, 301-762-1786/ CO: The SunBox Company ST: Maryland IN: HEA SU:


SM -- NYHFNS13 -- 1016 07/21/92 07:09 EDT
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Date:Jul 21, 1992
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