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 John Smith. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

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  • 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

    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

    June 12th, 2015 at 2:25 PM

    Good article, thanks

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