My Reddit AMA Was A Blast!

For those who don’t know — Reddit is a social network that some have called, “the front page of the internet.” Reddit has many great features that allow its users to determine what gets seen and what falls by the wayside. I was recently told about Reddit and was delighted to interact with its users. One of Reddit’s popular features is its IAmA section, where anyone who is knowledgeable about a particular field can answer questions on that topic from the public. An example would be, “IAmA defense lawyer” ask me anything — and watch the questions roll in!

Ask-AnythingThe title to my IAmA was I’m Dr. Norman Rosenthal, Psychiatrist, Author and Scientist who first described Winter Depression (SAD). AMAA (Ask Me Almost Anything). The questions started appearing on my screen, I began to type away crazily and to, my amazement, climbed to #1 on Reddit’s home page.

My friends in the social media industry threw out impressive numbers – thousands of visitors to my web site, tens of thousands of people “reached,” whatever that means. But most meaningful to me were people I actually knew, who saw me on the home page and emailed me: my nephew in South Africa, who now thinks his uncle is “cool;” a former research assistant, and a participant in our original National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) light therapy study. My son (who is also a psychiatrist) was informed about my place on the home page by one of his patients, who arrived for a session. So, now my son thinks I’m cool too! Since I’m usually working away at one thing or another, I’m not usually perceived as cool – so it’s a pleasant change.

I would like to share with you the following comments from the person who had previously participated in our NIMH study, which rapidly rose to become one of the most popular shares in the conversation:

Dr Rosenthal; I still have memories of Building 10 and the “motion/activity” detectors you used; and how they got smaller and smaller till they were just a silver metal box the size of a box of matches worn on the wrist! (And there was a minor amount of teasing at school for wearing those devices)

I do remember feeling a bit silly sitting under the full spectrum lights (and then the colored filters as well) for a few hours/day in the AM and PM when it was dark. But apparently it worked! (not that I thought it would as a kid at the time)

But thank you again for your research!!! (and the 10 year (I think) follow up after the research program as well)


One of your very initial group of “Lab Rats”. I’ll have to tell my Mom about this (she’s also a PhD in related fields, and does bio- and neurofeedback (still!))

Norman-Rosenthal-RedditMy Reply:
Oh my! You take me back to some good old days. Thanks for the memories, whoever you are!

Her/his Reply:
Well, I’m not about to break Dr./Patient (or in this case Researcher/Lab Rat) confidentiality on a public forum. But I was one of the younger ones in your initial group of 10~15 people (if I remember correctly, it was more then 2 decades ago, and I was in middle school at the time).

I remember the long lists of questions, and the weekly or more often visits to “read out” my activity meter . . . one the plotted graphs of my motion over time to show how as light went down; so did my activity; and as the lights were used it went up; and then when the “correct” filters were used, it went up even more. I also remember that I liked to sit under the full spectrum lights much much more than the filtered spectrum ones. But the filtered ones were more effective. (and the cat really liked the full spectrum ones too… just like lying in a sunbeam)
Both my parents are PhD’s in related fields, and I can’t remember if mom was also doing research of some type at NIH or what, but you two did seem to know each other, at least professionally.

In any event; it’s a rather nice little “check box” in my life history to know I was a (very small) part of helping the world to feel better in a measurable way. And I even got to know myself a lot better! (and I seem to have out-grown some percentage of my SAD symptoms… but I also know just what to do if they come back! A great feeling!)

And it’s great to hear you are still doing well!!

Warmest Regards!

I sign off with:
And warm regards to you. Take care and thanks for helping make the world a better place.

If you would like to see the entire thread (hold on to your seat) you can find it by clicking: I’m Dr. Norman Rosenthal, Psychiatrist, Author and Scientist who first described Winter Depression (SAD). AMAA

Wishing you Light and Transcendence,

Norman Rosenthal

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  1. I am a student going for a BS in Health and Wellness with S.A.D. I am researching it for a paper.

    - by June Saxton in February, 2012