Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that is related to seasonal fluctuations. It usually occurs around the time of the year when there is reduced sunlight. Although it is also known as winter blues, it has more severe symptoms.
Some of the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder include anxiety, depression, tiredness, sleeping disorder (excessive sleeping during the day and insomnia), excess weight gain, increased appetite, general tiredness, reduced concentration, low libido, etc.
Sunlight has therapeutic benefits to the human body, including regulation of the production of beneficial vitamins and hormones including vitamin D, cortisol (fights stress), serotonin (improves the mood), and melatonin (regulates the sleep-wake cycle). Don’t forget to read the Best Light Therapy Lamps for SAD reviews.
With all these said about the benefits of sunlight, how do you cope in seasons of low sunlight?
The Use of Light Therapy for Seasonal Affective Disorder
Although light therapy does not completely get rid of seasonal affective disorder, it has proven to be effective in alleviating the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder and enhancing body performance during seasons of lie sunlight.
Light therapy is typically a lightbox that emits a special type of white light that mimics sunlight energy with an intensity of up to 10,000 lux. Light of this intensity (and above) has the following advantages:
- Boosting the mood
- Improving the energy level
- Aiding concentration
- Regulating the sleep-wake cycle
Depending on the light device, the recommended treatment time for seasonal affective disorder using light therapy is usually between 20 to 30 minutes in the early hours of the morning.
On average, the use of lightboxes for 3 to 5 days should yield notable improvements. However, the result of the therapy may vary with different people.
How to get an ideal light therapy device
Light therapy devices are numerous in the market and if you are planning to get one, chances are that you are confused on which choice to make. Beyond the design of the device, there are certain features that you should look out for to make an ideal choice.
Below is a short guide that will help you get the best light therapy device:
- Sufficient Output: A major feature to check for before getting a light therapy device is its light intensity. The lamp should generate up to 10,000 lux of white light, anything below this would be ineffective. A white light of this intensity mimics sunlight and energizes the body.
- Safety: Ensure that the light therapy device is equipped to filter UV and other harmful radiations, so it can deliver safe and wholesome white light.
- Clinical Testing: Light therapy devices that have been clinically screened and approved are devices that can be trusted. Ensure that the one you are planning to buy has been thoroughly screened and certified.
- Large Surface Area: Light therapy devices have different surface areas. The ones with larger surface areas usually cover more body surface per time and work faster.
It can additionally be used by multiple persons.
Light therapy is ideal for use by anyone, except people with bipolar disorder and eye conditions including cataracts, and glaucoma.
In all, ensure that you consult your medical doctor before getting a lightbox.