A surprising new study has just emerged from Denmark in time to make us just a little more vigilant about depression over the next few weeks. The researchers found a rise in the number of hospital admissions for depression following the shift from daylight savings time to standard time. [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=danish+daylight+savings+time]

Of course we already know that as the hours of daylight wane in the fall, the risk of seasonal depression goes up. The surprise in the Danish data is that there is a bump in depression after the time change beyond the rise expected from shorter days.

That extra hour of sleep seems so much easier to take that the hour lost in the spring. And in some ways it is – there are more traffic accidents after the spring time change. But not that bump in depression.

But standard time means more light in the morning. Isn’t that good for depression? Only if you actually spend time out in that extra light, and most people don’t. The Danish scientists think the extra depression is psychologically driven – by the extra darkness when they do get out of work. But that’s just speculation.

Whatever the reason, it’s a good reminder to dust off your light box, if you use one, or to get out into that extra hour of morning light if you can.

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