Bright Light Therapy for Seasonal Affective Disorder

Recently, our community asked about Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD. SAD  is a type of depression that occurs at a certain time each year, usually in the heart of the winter when our bodies have been starved for sunlight. During light therapy, you sit or work near a device called a light therapy box. The box gives off bright light that mimics natural outdoor light. Symptoms can include loss of energy, weight gain, and difficulty concentrating.

While SAD can certainly make you feel down, you don’t have to book a tropical get-away to start feeling better. Bright Light Therapy, or “phototherapy,” is proven to help people with SAD. The best light boxes are 10,000 lux – don’t just use a normal lamp because it won’t mimic the full spectrum of light found in sunlight. SAD light boxes emit 10,000 lux, which is 20 times the strength of your bedside lamp. Make sure the light you buy filters out at least 99 percent of ultraviolet rays, which are harmful to your body.

Where you position your light makes a different – try to place it above you, so it is more like the sun cascading down and make sure it is at least 2 feet away from your eyes so it does not cause any damage or strain for your vision. Begin by turning your box on for 20 to 30 minutes each morning to see if you notice results with your mood and energy. Try to be consistent at the time of day you use the lamp, so you aren’t adding to many variables to your routine. Note that some medications are photosensitive so make sure before you try bright light therapy for SAD, you consult with your doctor about any medications.


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