Seasonal Affective Disorder Light Therapy

How Does Light Therapy Work?

With light therapy, the patient is exposed to a light that mimics natural outdoor light. A specially constructed light box emits this type of light, which is at least 10 times brighter than a regular light bulb. The difference between this special light and natural outdoor light is that it won’t damage your skin or eyes like the sun’s UV rays.

Why Does It Work?

The effectiveness of light therapy varies from one individual to the next. If you work in a poorly lit office, for instance, you’ll likely employ your light box each working day to compensate for the lack of natural brightness. Some will use the light box as recommended, which is every day upon awakening throughout the darkest parts of winter. Others may skip some days and still experience some improvement.

The reason why light therapy is said to work is because the human body naturally needs light to stay active and be able to tell when to sleep and when to wake up. Sometimes our body clocks are simply distracted as more of us decide to stay up late in front of the computer or TV when our bodies’ should already be prepared to sleep. And if you noticed, the winter days are often dark even during the daytime, and this can affect our levels of energy and eventually our mood and behaviors. Light therapy can help in this case because it can give us a good “dose of daytime” during colder and darker seasons. Happy Lamp is a website where you can find different types of light therapy lamps. They have tested and reviewed all the lamps, so you should find one that suits you most pretty easy.

Can Light Therapy Be Used With Antidepressant Medication?

Sometimes patients fair better with a combination of seasonal affective disorder light therapy and antidepressant medication. But if there’s fast improvement in the long run, then some doctors prescribe lower doses or allow the withdrawal of the medication altogether. Some patients continue to use other supplementation like St. John’s Wort and melatonin in conjunction with light therapy.

Are There Any Side Effects?

Should side effects occur they are oftentimes mild. Some individuals may have headaches, nausea, eye strain or feeling fidgety when they initially begin using a light box. However, these often improve with each use.

Won’t The Lights Cause Tanning?

This shouldn’t be the case. The majority of light therapy products filter out or reduce the UV rays that result in tanning. This should not affect the results, however, as SAD light therapy is administered through the eyes and not the skin.

On average, the majority of patients utilize 1 hour of 5,000 lux of light each day. Lux gauges how intense light is. 2,500 lux can also be used but for 2 hours, and 10,000 lux for half an hour every morning throughout the fall and winter. You may experience a relief from symptoms within a few days to a couple of weeks or more under seasonal affective disorder light therapy.

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