According to a new study, published on July 24, 2012 in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, continuous exposure to false lights at nighttime can cause depression. The study was conducted on hamsters.

Researchers exposed hamsters to dim lights for a period of four weeks, after which the hamsters began showing signs of depression. Some of those signs included less interest in drinking sugar water. The symptoms occurred more in the hamsters exposed to the lights than in those animals that weren’t exposed to the light. What this means is that there may be a direct correlation between the artificial light exposure at night and depression, which has risen significantly during the past 50 years, says a study researcher Tracy Bedrosian, a doctoral student in neuroscience at Ohio State University.

“The advent of electrical lighting permitted humans to stray from natural day-night cycles,” potentially disturbing our biological rhythms and leading to changes in behavior, Bedrosian said.

A good thing about the study is that it also showed that the harmful effects of the night lights reversed themselves in the animals after only two weeks in regular lighting conditions, the researchers said.

“People who stay up late, in front of the television and computer, may be able to undo some of the harmful effects just by going back to a regular light-dark cycle and minimizing their exposure to artificial light at night,” Bedrosian said.

If this study is correct, many depression sufferers may be relieved to find out that they don’t have to take prescription medications like Paxil to help cure their depression. Paxil has been known to cause serious side effects that include violent and suicidal thoughts and behavior. The drug also causes birth defects like PPHN, cleft palate, spina bifida and neural tube defects in babies whose mothers take the drug while pregnant. In this case, turning off the lights is a cure everyone can live with.