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Night lights may foster depression

Chronic dim light triggers temporary brain changes in animals

Psychiatrists sometimes prescribe light therapy to treat a form of depression in people who get too little morning sun. But too much light at other times may actually trigger such mood disorders. Chronic exposure to light at night unleashes depression, a new study finds — at least in animals.

The new data confirm observations from studies of people who work night shifts, says Richard Stevens of the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington. Mood disorders join a growing list of problems — including cancer, obesity and diabetes — that can occur when light throws life out of balance by disrupting the biological clock and its timing of daily rhythms.

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