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Experts believe the seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is caused by the body's overproduction of melatonin during periods of decreased sunlight. For people living in northern climates, this is generally most pronounced during the short days of winter. Melatonin is a sleep-related hormone that is secreted in the brain and has been shown to trigger the symptoms of depression. Light therapy inhibits the body's production of melatonin by tricking the body into thinking there is more daylight than there actually is.