With the year dipping deeper into the dark and dreary days of winter – and with at least two months left of the season, your mood can start to take a turn for the worst. The medical term for increased depression and anxiety during the winter season is called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of clinical depression. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 2% to 3% of people may have SAD, with 15% of others experiencing a less severe form called the “winter blues.” The good news? Seasonal Affective Disorder can be treated. We talk frequently about the different natural remedies for seasonal affective disorder and today, we are focusing on one of our favourites – light therapy.
What is Light Therapy?
A couple of weeks ago, we wrote a comprehensive guide on what is light therapy and how it can help alleviate anxiety and depression. The short form? Light therapy, also known as phototherapy, consists of exposure to bright light affect the brain chemicals responsible for mood, sleep and mental health. By exposing yourself to 10,000 light intensity (100 times brighter than indoor lighting), you’re able toto decrease depression, anxiety and fatigue. It’s like getting the sun and all the health benefits, only indoors and from a light therapy box or SAD lamp.
9 Things You Need To Know Before Starting Light Therapy
With any type of therapy, it’s highly recommended to know as much information as possible prior to starting. As such, we’ve created a list of, what we believe to be the things you should know before starting light therapy.
1. 10,000 Light Intensity is Provided
A bright, sunny day has 50,000 lux (light intensity). Light therapy provides 10,000 lux which is 100 times more than standard indoor lighting.
2. You Sit In Front of the SAD Lamp for 15-30 Minutes a Day
Your doctor can prescribe you a specific amount of time to sit in front of your light therapy box but typically, 15-30 minutes a day is enough. Some health benefits even cover this purchase!
3. You Can Use Portable Light Therapy for 12 Minutes a Day
You also have the option of using a portable light therapy device (our personal favourite) which allows you to do the light therapy whenever and wherever you are, and you only need 12 minutes – perfect for commuting, walking the dog, doing household chores, etc.
4. Light Therapy Increases Production of Serotonin and Dopamine
By receiving light through your eyes (or ears, if you choose portable light therapy), your serotonin and dopamine hormones kick in. This helps reset your circadian rhythm (what keeps you awake during the day and asleep at night) to eliminate fatigue.
5. Anxiety and Depression are Often Linked to Serotonin and Dopamine Hormones
Fatigue isn’t the only thing light therapy treats. A deficiency or lack of serotonin and dopamine hormones are often linked to causing anxiety and depression to spike. So, a light therapy box can also decrease anxiety and depression by boosting production of these hormones.
6. It’s Best To Do Light Therapy Immediately After Waking Up
Plugging in your portable light therapy into your ears or turning on your light therapy box in the morning will give you a kickstart to the day.
7. The Results Can Take Some Time to Appear
The benefits of light therapy won’t necessarily happen as soon as you take a seat in front of the SAD lamp. In fact, it can take a couple of days for you to start feeling the effects. So, keep at it every day and eventually, you’ll start to feel the amazing results.
8. You Keep Using Light Therapy Even After You See Results
Don’t stop using your SAD lamp or light therapy as soon as you start to feel better. This is a daily, on-going treatment and since it only requires a couple of minutes a day, don’t skimp out.
9. Full-Blown Seasonal Affective Disorder can be Reverse
With appropriate bright light therapy treatment, you can completely reverse the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder naturally and without the need for prescription medication.
Light therapy boxes and SAD lamps are a little pricey but they’re worth every penny!
And considering you only have to sit in front of a SAD lamp or light therapy box (or wear your portable light therapy device) for a couple of minutes of a day in order to completely reverse the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder, you’d be silly not to do it.