Amongst the many glands present in the human body is the pineal gland that is located in the middle of the brain. This pea shaped gland is associated with the production of a vital night time hormone called melatonin. The time of dusk signaling the onset of night triggers the synthesis of melatonin. This hormone in turn sends messages to the human body to sleep.
The sleep process is further facilitated by decrease in blood pressure and body temperature. For this very reason, melatonin is often termed as the hibernation hormone. While the primary function of melatonin is to induce sleep that aids in the regeneration of body tissues, the hormone is also believed to have a correlation with temperamental changes. Since melatonin triggers drowsiness, therefore in circumstances like shift work and jet lag when our body is forced to function actively during hours when the hormone is on the high in our system, the body reacts with symptoms such as mood swings, irritation, sluggish movements and lack of concentration.
Depression is an established repercussion of high levels of melatonin, especially during day time. The reasons for day time release of melatonin include trauma, tension, injury, age or lack of light. The alteration in the timing of its production within the body is observed to be the maximum in darker climates.
It is important to watch out for the signs of imbalance in the level of melatonin. Some of the evident symptoms projecting this imbalance include laziness and fatigue during the daytime, social or physical withdrawal, negative temperamental changes, excessive or lack of sleep. One form of treating imbalanced levels of melatonin in the body is the usage of specialized light. Research reveals that under healthy circumstances, photoreceptors in the eyes called melanospin are responsible for initiating the production of melatonin. These receptors play a crucial role in communicating messages to the brain involving the release of melatonin and stoppage of the daytime hormone, serotonin.
Medical science has been successful in generating the similar effect by usage of special light. The effect of bright light on serotonin levels was demonstrated for the first time by a scientist named Lancet in the year 2002. His experiment showcased how exposure to bright level triggers an incredible elevation in the levels of serotonin and the same level plunges significantly on dark or cloudy days. Since then, many doctors have employed the use of this technique towards the treatment of depression. Not only are the results more promising but the patient is also saved from the side effects of long term use of antidepressants. Many believe that the combination of medicines and light treatment works best in relieving patients from depression.
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