Do therapy lights for seasonal affective disorder really work? In my opinion and from experience with friends and family, I would have to say yes. If one of the main causes of SAD is a lack of sunlight, it would only make sense that replacing that light in some way would be beneficial.
Let’s take a look at a few examples, but before we do that, it might be a good idea to get a handle on just what seasonal affective disorder (SAD) really is.
Causes And Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder:
Before modern science put a name on everything, SAD sufferers were looked at as just having the “Winter Blues.” Modern science and research has enabled a deeper understanding into who is more likely to be affected by it, as well as symptoms to expect and possible treatments that are available. It is most common for SAD to appear in the fall and winter. But it can also affect a smaller percentage of people in the spring and summer. If you suffer from SAD, you are not alone, it is thought that roughly 20% of the population suffers as well.
Here are a few of the factors that could increase your risk:
- If you are already suffering from clinical depression or bipolar disorder.
- If you live far away from the equator.
- If your location has a lack of sunlight hours during the winter months.
- If you are a female you have a higher chance of being diagnosed, but men may develop symptoms that are more severe than women.
- If you are older.
- If depression or SAD runs in the family.
- If you are a shift worker sometimes your biological clock changes.
- If your body’s level of serotonin or melatonin drops causing depression or mood changes.
Why do some people suffer while others don’t is an often asked question with many ailments. The basic answer is that we don’t really know for sure, but the above factors combined with choices in lifestyle and habits do contribute.
If you have ever suffered from any type of depression then you will understand that you can get caught up in a vicious cycle of symptoms that feed off each other and compound the problem further. In SAD, your appetite may change with the body craving junk food or foods that are high in carbohydrates. This can cause weight gain which brings about symptoms such as; tiredness, depression, low energy, irritability, oversleeping or insomnia.
Are you getting the picture?
It can be a chain reaction that is harmful and hard to stop. If symptoms persist for longer than a few days you should speak to your health care professional about treatment options. Something like light therapy would seem to be a better start than going right into any anti-depressant medications.
Choosing Light Therapy For SAD:
Did you know that light is 500 to 1,000 times brighter outdoors on a sunny day than it is with inside room lighting. The best light therapy is found outdoors and most people are able to get enough light in the summer months without even trying. It is the lack of outdoor light when the days are shorter and overcast that can cause a problem with SAD.
There are two types of light therapy (Light Lamps and Dawn Simulators) that can be used at home during the winter months to help combat the symptoms and effects from lack of sunshine.
Most often the form of light therapy that most of us think of is Light Lamps which are designed to mimic outdoor light. These can be bought over the counter and are typically used for about 30 minutes or so each morning. There are many different sizes and shapes available with varying features. The Light Box (Lamp) can also be used to recover from Jet Lag as it tends to return your body to its natural cycle.
The second type of light therapy is called a Dawn Simulator. It is like a gentle and peaceful alarm clock that gradually increases the light in your bedroom while you are still asleep. It’s basically a timer that increases lighting over a period of several minutes. The idea is to trick your brain into thinking that it is a natural sunrise. Pretty cool idea, and it all happens while you are still sleeping. The dawn simulator is considered to be a Lite, Light Therapy that will improve the condition in some cases.
Part of light treatment therapy is to get those suffering from SAD out of the cycle of depression and its accompanying symptoms. It just may give you some “get up and go” and improved mood. This change can assist in the ability to choose a healthier diet and a little exercise, which will in turn, create an upward spiral of health.
Not all light lamps are created equal and these are a few simple guidelines to help in your search.
- The first thing that you should do is check with your doctor before starting any light therapy. It is not recommended if you are on some medications or herbs like St. John’s Wort.
- Look for maximum UV protection for your eyes.
- White light and not blue or red is what works best for SAD.
- Medical Professionals consider the 10,000 LUX Light to be the standard for safety and effectiveness.
Keep in mind that if you do decide to try a light box or lamp for therapy, they are not regulated or tested by the FDA. As with all purchases, check online or Amazon reviews to get a feel for quality as opposed to price.
Here are a couple of mini-reviews and recommended choices:Carex Health Brands Day-Light Sky 10,000 LUX Bright Light Therapy Lamp (DL2000)
This product from Carex has a glare free diffuser that filters 99.3% of harmful UV rays. It emits 10,000 LUX of balanced White light and features BrightZone TM Technology. This unit provides exposure of light from above the eyes. Because of it’s size it is not really suitable for travel.Sphere Gadget Technologies Lightphoria, 10,000 Lux Energy Light Lamp
This is a truly affordable lamp. It has some good reviews and it is very portable. It uses an array of 72 eye optimized LED lights to deliver 10,000 LUX of wide spectrum white light. It has a tilt back stand, programmable timer and intensity level settings. You can’t go wrong at this price.Verilux HPLD HappyLight Deluxe 10,000 LUX Sunshine Simulator
The HappyLight’s balanced Natural Spectrum light is gentle and helps the body recalibrate and stabalize to reduce fatigue and lethargy associated with SAD. Verilux is the best selling light therapy brand and this one has the widest possible 10,000 LUX output.It has a tilting base for directional control and is also wall mountable. Great for home, office or the exercise room.Travelite 10,000 Lux, Bright Light Therapy Portable Desk Lamp, Beige
Full spectrum 10,000 LUX lighting and energy effecient using only 48 wats of power. It comes with a stand that will support it in either vertical or horizontal positions. Great for the home and office as it is designed to be portable.
Are you interested in Dawn Simulators? Learn More Here