Is Seasonal Affective Disorder All in Your Head? These Rats Say “No”

It’s not uncommon to feel a bit less energized during the winter months, but for some people, a more pronounced depression cycles in each year as daylight begins to wane. While most depression is best treated in therapy or counseling, light therapy has proven fairly effective for people with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Until now, many have suspected that light therapy’s success was nothing more than a psychological placebo. But a desert gerbil called the Fat Sand Rat has proven otherwise. Unlike most research rodents, which are nocturnal, the Fat Sand Rat keeps daytime hours, just like humans. And it also shows signs of anxiety, antisocial behavior, and despair when the sun goes away. New research shows that the rat responds very positively to light therapy, which weakens the placebo argument and offers real hope to those who find themselves depressed during fall and winter months.

© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • eliza


    November 12th, 2010 at 5:35 AM

    I have tried light therapy in the past and that helped me some.

  • Felix


    November 12th, 2010 at 7:18 AM

    Its so nice when the sun is bright and you can enjoy a walk in the park without all the warm clothes. But when winter arrives, all this goes straight out of the window and when there is lot enough light it just gives an impression of everything being so gloomy and depressing.

  • James Key

    James Key

    November 12th, 2010 at 10:53 AM

    I hate to wake up on a winter morning because I just feel like staying under the sheets and not get ready,go out and work…in addition to making people depressed winter also brings in laziness in all people.

  • Danilo Dohm

    Danilo Dohm

    June 12th, 2015 at 2:25 PM

    Good article, thanks

Leave a Comment

By commenting you acknowledge acceptance of's Terms and Conditions of Use.



* Indicates required field.

Therapist   Treatment Center

Advanced Search

Search Our Blog

Title   Content   Author is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, medical treatment, or therapy. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding any mental health symptom or medical condition. Never disregard professional psychological or medical advice nor delay in seeking professional advice or treatment because of something you have read on