Light Deprivation Causes Depression

The Guantanamo bay prisoners were made to wear these
Eye shields and ear muffs meant to deprive them of all
senses both Light and sound – allegedly as a form of torture.

The association between darkness and depression is well established. Now a March 25 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals for the first time the profound changes that light deprivation causes in the brain.

Neuroscientists at the University of Pennsylvania kept rats in the
dark for six weeks. The animals not only exhibited depressive behavior
but also suffered damage in brain regions known to be underactive in
humans during depression. The researchers observed neurons that produce
norepi­nephrine, dopamine and serotonin—common neurotransmitters
involved in emotion, pleasure and cognition—in the process of dying.
This neuronal death, which was accompanied in some areas by compromised
synaptic connections
, may be the mechanism underlying the
darkness-related blues of seasonal affective disorder.

Principal investigator Gary Aston-Jones, now at the Medical
University of South Carolina, speculates that the dark-induced effects
stem from a disruption of the body’s clock. “When the circadian system
is not receiving normal light, that in turn might lead to changes in
brain systems that regulate mood,” he says.

Treating the rats with an antidepressant significantly ameliorated
brain damage and depressive behaviors
. “Our study provides a new animal
system for antidepressant devel­opment. Many existing animal models
depend on stress.
Our model is a stress-free means of producing a depression. It might be
parti­cularly relevant to seasonal affective disorder, but we think
that it is relevant to depression overall,” Aston-Jones says.

The article appeared on Scientific American.

~ by Dr.Zhivago on August 8, 2008.

One Response to “Light Deprivation Causes Depression”

  1. I have not read this but the picture says it all. The real question is whom are these Detainees and what crime did they do. Are they subject to the same rights as a US citizen…not guilty until proven otherwise? I am so confused by this unjustice practice. This looks a lot like torture and I as an american citizen am concerned. However I have not forgotten about 911 and I feel the President needs to take a stance from the crazyness that occurred during the Bush administration….please do something for the better of humanity! We need to teach our children right from wrong and we need the truth!…Thank you, CL

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