Thursday, July 12, 2012

Introducing Light Therapy to Lithuania

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Introduction

Lithuania is a small country on the shores of the Baltic Sea. This small republic was formally a part of the Soviet Union in the northern hemisphere. Unfortunately the one aspect of Lithuania that stands out is their high suicide rate. Lithuania’s suicide rate has steadily increased since the counties independence from the Russia in 10. Suicides are most prevalent in young men, and women aged 50 to 5. According to the Gallup International poll Lithuanians were the most pessimistic people out of the 6 nations polled. This showing that Lithuanian negativity is a wide spread problem stemming from a large source that can effect the entire country (Alyanak, 000).

According to a special report on suicide, in the country of Lithuania more people comment suicide per day than die in traffic accidents, the numbers being 4 to 5 people each day. The suicide rate of Lithuania was not always this high. Before WWII Lithuanian suicide rates were very low as compared to other European countries, but now Lithuania’s suicide rates are miles above the rest. Dr. Danute Gailiene, a psychologist and specialist on social issues, is quoted in saying “ Suicide cannot be explained using only individual reasons, it is the consequence of a complex process.” Some experts believe that changes in Lithuanian society carry a large part of the blame in the Lithuanian social crisis. Economic regressions along with psychological and social insecurity are also believed to be contributing factors, but still a specific cause cannot be pinpointed (Alyanak, 000).

Several other different avenues have been explored as to try and explain Lithuania’s suicide rate. One area of blame was placed on the media. As suicides increased so did the media coverage of them. The media spared very few facts and gory details about each suicide, yet in turn there were few articles written to tell people about possible warning signs to look for to help prevent suicides. A second aspect of blame was placed on the fact that psychological support or help is not available to the people of Lithuania. The country does not have the resources to establish and develop a suitable psychological system. This leaves the people suffering from depression and other psychologically affected problems to fend for themselves (Alyanak, 000).

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We as a group have another possible cause for Lithuania’s high suicide rate, and a solution. Our theory is based on the effects of S.A.D (seasonal affective disorder) and how Lithuania’s irregular night and day patterns can cause depression. SAD is a specific type of major depression, which occurs at specific times of the year. This type of disorder is most prevalent during the fall and / or winter months. The reason for this is the shortening of the days, and people having to live in darkness more than light. SAD is clinically diagnosed, which is based on the presence of specific symptoms; such as there should be at least three episodes of mood disturbance in three separate seasons, two of which should be consecutive (00, June 1).

Summary of the Facts

Background/History/Current Situation - Lithuanians are a branch of the Balts whose settlement dates back to around 00 B.C. Lithuanian is one of the oldest languages in Europe. The first written mention of Lithuania was in the Annales Quedlinburgenses in 100 A.D. The first Lithuanian state was established by the Grand Duke Mindaugas in 10. He converted to Christianity briefly and was crowned king of Lithuania in 15. Independent between the two World Wars, Lithuania was annexed by the USSR in 140. On 11 March 10, Lithuania became the first of the Soviet republics to declare its independence, but this proclamation was not generally recognized until September of 11. The last Russian troops withdrew in 1. Lithuania subsequently has restructured its economy for eventual integration into Western European institutions (www.wto.org).

Religion � Roman Catholic (primarily), Lutheran, Russian Orthodox, Protestant, Evangelical Christian Baptist, Muslim, Jewish

Government � The Lithuanian state is an independent democratic republic. The foundations of the political and social system are enforced by the Fundamental Law (the Constitution) of the Republic of Lithuania adopted on October 5, 1, which also establishes the rights, freedoms and obligations of citizens. State power in Lithuania is exercised by the, Seimas (Parliament) the President of the Republic, the Government and the Court. Rolandas Paksas was elected the President of the Republic of Lithuania on February 6, 00 (www.wto.org). The Presidential term is for five years.

Culture � The rich culture of Lithuania goes back thousands of years. During the baroque era, a distinctly Lithuanian style was created. The superb interior of the Church of Saints Peter and Paul, with its myriad stuccoed figures, was commissioned by a Lithuanian army commander in 1668(www.wto.org).

Education � In 157, the regions oldest university, Vilnius University, was established by the Jesuits. The country now has six universities, academies and research institutes.

Economy, Finance, Industry, Trade � Lithuania trades primarily with Russia. Lithuania has steadily increased trade to the west. Lithuania has gained membership in the World Trade Organization and has moved ahead with plans to join the EU. Privatization of the large, state-owned utilities, particularly in the energy sector, is underway. Overall, more than 80% of enterprises have been privatized. The US government and business aid have helped in the transition from the old command economy to a market economy (www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/lh.html). Lithuania’s currency is the litas. Lithuania’s has a workforce of over 1.5 million people with 50% in the service industry, 0% in industry, and 0% in agricultural.

Environmental � Current environmental issues are contamination of soil and groundwater with petroleum products and chemicals at military bases.

Telecommunication � Lithuania has approximately 1.1 million phone lines in place and about 500,000 cell phones. Phone system is considered inadequate but is currently being upgrading.

Recommendations

Import of Light Therapy for the Treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.)

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a specific type of recurring depressive illness that manifests in an annual pattern, usually from early-to-late fall and subsiding with the longer, sunnier days of spring. Some people have the milder form, called Subsyndromal-SAD (S-SAD), also called Winter Blues, which causes minor problems in their lives but not the total disruption that full-blown SAD causes. Researchers have confirmed that specific biological changes within the brain occur in response to different levels of bright light exposure, and that these biochemical changes affect hormones and neurotransmitters responsible for regulating our mood, energy, sleep and appetite. In the majority of the population, these changes are not troublesome; they simply cause minor variations in their annual rhythms. For those with SAD, though, these changes are profound enough to cause significant disruption to their lives. (www.sunbox.com) After a long (there is snow for two and a half months), dark (in December the sun only shines for 0.7 hours per day), and cold winter (the temperature has dropped to -4 C) - when everything living appears to have fallen asleep forever - one can really feel the return of the sun all things, including man himself, revive. Lithuania is a land of contrasting climates. And what occurs in nature plays upon ones body, soul, and emotions. Long winters and dismal autumns bring on melancholia and introspection. With the re-emergence of the sun, man opens himself up to the world, and his thoughts brighten.( www.travellithuania.com)

Lithuania, this tiny former Soviet republic on the shores of the Baltic Sea has acquired a dubious distinction It has the highest suicide rate in the world. Suicides have increased steadily since independence in 10, especially among young men (up 15 percent) and women aged 50 to 5 (up 106 percent). In 16 the suicide rate hit an all-time high of 46.4 per 100,000 people before settling at 44 in 17. These figures compare with 8 per 100,000 in Russia, 4 in Estonia, in Hungary, 0 in Switzerland, seven in Spain, and three in Greece. According to one specialized report on suicide, more people kill themselves in Lithuania each day (four to five) than die in traffic accidents. But these figures are relatively new and suicide has never been a traditional characteristic here. Before World War II, suicide rates in Lithuania were far below those of many other Eastern European countries. Now, the Baltic States, with Lithuania up front, are leading the pack. Suicide cannot be explained using only individual reasons, said Dr. Danute Gailiene, a psychologist and specialist in social issues. It is the consequence of a complex process. That process includes decades of Soviet domination, a dramatic transition period, the amount of media coverage given to suicides, and a certain perceived helplessness toward all of the above. These factors are intensified by the absence of a national suicide prevention strategy and a lack of in-depth research into the problem of suicide. Experts say radical reforms in Lithuanian society have brought about a crisis in values, while growing economic unease has combined with increasing psychological and social insecurity and feelings of helplessness. Still, they cannot pinpoint specific causes.(www.angelfire.com)

How is it treated? Bright light is highly effective in treating SAD. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, Treatment [for SAD] with bright environmental light is generally a first-line therapeutic approach. Four out of five people with seasonal difficulties (either SAD or S-SAD) should expect to benefit from bright light treatment. Several qualitative review of the literature...have concluded that light therapy, administered by fluorescent light boxes...is an effective treatment for SAD, with response rates of 60% to 0%. According to Norman Rosenthal, former Chief of Clinical Psychobiology at the National Institute of Mental Health, The most effective, practical, and best-studied way of enhancing your environmental light is by means of a special light fixture or light box, the most commonly used method for administering light therapy. Other treatments that may be helpful include changes in diet and exercise, stress management, sleep restriction, psychotherapy, and antidepressant medications. (www.sunbox.com)

Teaming with psychiatrists, physicians and hospitals, we plan to export light therapy products for use in Lithuania. In 000 the Lithuanian Society of Biological Psychiatry held its 1st Baltic Regional Symposium of Biological Psychiatry. Many of the lectures concerned SAD, light therapy and its treatments. (www.biological-psychiatry.lt ) The European Network for Suicidology is a team of Doctors trained to intervene in suicides and has listings in Lithuania. Choosing a reputable American company such as The SunBox Company, 117 Orbit Drive Gaithersburg, Maryland 087-414. Founded in 185, it is a leader in the industry. Sunbox has a wide range of light therapy products and is dedicated to not only providing a quality product but also great customer service and customer education.

Implementation

The marketing of consumer products in Lithuania is somewhat inhibited due to the lack of large distributors or wholesalers. Only a handful of these companies are considered reliable enough to be engaged in international commercial activity. The market for consumer products in Lithuania is fragmented. Consumer preferences differ among various income, age and social groups. According to recent statistics, 60% of those interviewed claimed that owing to their limited income, price is the most conclusive factor in shopping situations. For people who are satisfied with their income level, product quality and brand names are more important. They consider high price as an indicator for good quality (The U.S. Commerical Service).

Advertising may be conducted freely in any printed or electronic media. The leading newspapers in Lithuania are Lietuvos Rytas, Respublika, Lietuvos Aidas published in Lithuanian and Russian. The leading business newspapers are Verslo Zinios and Baltic Business News(The U.S. Commerical Service).

At present, there are no laws regulating the relationship between a foreign company and its distributors or agents in Lithuania. A distributor relationship can be determined according to the provisions of each specific distributor agreement. A joint venture with the local partner is the best way for a U.S. company to start business in Lithuania. It is advisable to find out as much as possible about the potential partner. The basic data on a Lithuanian company, including credit ratings, is available from local information service companies, although this system is not yet fully developed (The U.S. Commerical Service).



References

S.A.D Info, Retrieved from the World Wide Web on June 1, 00, www.lighttherapyproducts.com

Alyanak, Leyla, 000, Suicide in Lithuania, Earth Times News Service, retrieved from the World Wide Web on June 1, 00, www.angelfire.com

http//www.biological-psychiatry.lt/eng_symp.html

http//www.sunbox.com

http//www.uke.uni-hamburg.de/ens/www/addressbook/Addresses/Lithuania.html

http//www.angelfire.com/tx/LABAS/000/jan/suicide.html

http//www.travellithuania.com/country/nature.php

The U.S. Commercial Service � Lithuania. Retrieved July , 00 from the World Wide Web http//www.usatrade.gov/website/ccg.nsf/CCGurl/CCG-LITHUANIA001-CH-4-00514B



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