Did You Know…that a unique light therapy box has been shown to treat depression, as well as alleviate Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) that afflicts many people from September through April?
Depression is a prevalent health condition which presents itself in many forms, including seasonal depression, or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD’s pattern of mood disturbances and depressive symptoms usually occur in autumn and winter.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
As the days become shorter and the weather colder, the debilitating symptoms of depression can emerge, including:
• Appetite changes, especially a craving for sweet or starchy foods
• Weight gain
• A heavy feeling in the limbs
• Decreased energy
• A tendency to oversleep
• Difficulty concentrating
• Increased sensitivity to social rejection
• Avoidance of social situations
In the case of SAD, these symptoms may lift in the spring, as the days lengthen and the air warms. According to Paul Susic, a licensed psychologist, “[SAD] symptoms tend to start around September of each year [and last] until April…the problem seems to stem from a lack of bright light in the winter. Researchers have proven that bright light makes a difference to brain chemistry.”
Given the risks of ongoing depression and the toll it takes on daily life, no one should have to simply suffer from September through April, waiting for the light to come back. Those who currently suffer from SAD have hope there is treatment for seasonal affective disorder, including at least one powerful, natural alternative proven to work.
Let There Be Light (Boxes)
Scientists have developed light therapy boxes that mimic outdoor light and are highly successful in the treatment for seasonal affective disorder. Light therapy boxes are also known as light boxes…bright light boxes…and phototherapy boxes. These easy-to-operate portable units are relatively affordable and intended for home use.
Advantages of Light Therapy for the Treatment of SAD:
- Light therapy’s benefits have been scientifically proven in multiple studies over many years
- Most people show improvement within 1 week
- Side effects are rare
- Light therapy takes only 15 to 30 minutes per day
Scientists believe light therapy works to lift mood by triggering chemical changes in the brain. Light therapy can also help adjust your circadian rhythm (sleep cycles), which are linked to mood.
Typically, light therapy sessions should take place each morning, for 30 minutes or longer, with the light shining indirectly toward your eyes.
Research on light boxes is a developing field. It makes sense to take some time to determine which light box will best suit your needs, especially if you are concerned about ongoing depression in addition to SAD.
Researchers are currently exploring light therapy as a treatment for major depressive disorders as well as other psychiatric illnesses.
Finding the Light Box That’s Right for Your Needs
Doctors at Mayo Clinic have developed a helpful list of criteria to consider when purchasing a light box. The major points are:
- Is that light box made specifically to treat SAD? Some light therapy devices are intended to treat skin disorders. These emit ultraviolet (UV) lights which is not a helpful treatment for seasonal affective disorder or depression and can damage your eyes if used incorrectly.
- How bright is it? The intensity of the light emitted determines the amount of time each day you will need to use the box for it to be effective, and also the appropriate distance to sit in relation to the box.
- How much UV light does it release? Light boxes designed to treat SAD filter out most UV light, but it’s important to check the specifications prior to purchase. Ideally, you should look for a box that emits as little UV light as possible at high intensity.
- Does it use LEDs? Some newer light boxes are using light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which are more efficient than the fluorescent or incandescent bulbs used traditionally.
- Is it the style you need? Light boxes come in a range of styles, from upright lamps to small, rectangular units. Keeping in mind that most boxes need to be no more than 2 feet away from you in order to work, be sure to choose a style that will be convenient for you to use.
Where to Buy a Light Box
Light boxes can be purchased over-the-counter with no prescription. Drugstores, Internet retailers, and even some hardware stores sell a variety of light boxes. Some doctors will prescribe a particular box, and some health insurance companies require a prescription to cover, or at least partially subsidize, the purchase.
Since prices range from $100 to $500, it’s worth checking with your insurance provider.