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 – a sad light!
What is Light Therapy?
Light therapy is a non-invasive treatment that involves exposure to artificial light to help alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions. This therapy works by using a light box, which emits a bright light that mimics natural outdoor light. It’s believed that exposure to this light can regulate the body’s circadian rhythm, which can help to improve mood, reduce anxiety, and increase energy levels.
During light therapy, you sit in front of a sad light for a specific period of time each day, usually in the morning. The length of time and frequency of therapy can vary depending on the severity of the symptoms and the individual’s response to treatment.
Some studies have shown that light therapy can be as effective as traditional antidepressant medications for treating symptoms of anxiety and depression, and it may be a particularly useful option for individuals who prefer non-pharmacological treatments or who experience negative side effects from medications. However, as with any treatment, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting light therapy for anxiety.
Benefits of Using a SAD Light
Things You Need To Know Before Using a SAD Light
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 things to know before using a SAD light to treat seasonal depression and anxiety.
1. Make Sure 10,000 Light Intensity is Provided
Different light boxes emit varying intensities of light. Ensure that the light box you choose meets the recommended criteria, typically around 10,000 lux, for effective mental health benefits.
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 SAD lamp but typically, 15-30 minutes a day is enough. Some health benefit packages even cover this purchase!
3. SAD Lamps Increase Production of Serotonin and Dopamine
By receiving light through your eyes, 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.
4. You Want a SAD Lamp With UV Protection
Verify that the light box has effective UV filtration to protect your eyes and skin from harmful ultraviolet rays. This ensures the safety of the treatment.
5. SAD Lights Treat Many Mental Health Disorders
Seasonal depression isn’t the only thing that a SAD light can help treat. A deficiency or lack of serotonin and dopamine hormones are often linked to causing anxiety and depression to spike. So, a light 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 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. Consistency is Key
To experience the full benefits, use light therapy consistently. Daily sessions, especially during the fall and winter months for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), are typically recommended. Most importantly, don’t forgo your SAD lamp self care when you start to feel better. This is the light therapy working. Keep it up.
9. Full-Blown Seasonal Affective Disorder can be Managed
With appropriate bright light therapy treatment, you can completely reverse the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder naturally and without the need for prescription medication.
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