Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD is an acute mental condition in which one develops depression due to minimal amounts of sunlight reaching them. It usually occurs during winter season where people go for several months without seeing the sun.
Nevertheless, this disorder can still arise in any environment that has limited access to natural radiance. The most effective way of fighting ‘winter blues’ as it’s popularly known is through using SAD light therapy lamps.
What’s contained inside the apparatus?
It features a lamp bulb that produces bright white light which mimics original rays, but without ultraviolet radiation. For improved results this box should be placed on top of a stand and preferably at eye level or above, healing occurs when one is exposed to illumination for a considerable amount of time.
However, the actual duration may vary from one person to another based on severity levels and medical recommendations. In most cases individual sessions last between 15 min and 1 hr, being done twice or thrice a day.
How does it work?
- Influencing the Circadian cycle
- Inhibiting production of melatonin
The technique works by targeting a person’s sleep-wake rhythm, this is an innate mechanism which your body uses to determine the most appropriate time to fall asleep and wake up. Scientists have discovered that sunlight plays an important role in shaping circadian reflexes.
Hence, during snow season when daylight hours are minimal, the cycle can be off-set leading to sleep loss and depressive swings. Light therapy seeks to restore this cycle by simulating the same exposure to sunlight that one would naturally experience during summer months.
This hormone is naturally secreted in the pineal gland and is responsible for triggering deep sleep. However, exposure to artificial radiance may decrease the volume of melatonin that’s circulating within the blood, consequently improving energy levels and mood.
Since different parts of the world receive varying amounts of light during winter and fall, the average amount of time it would take for SAD light therapy to be effective may vary from one place to another. Some patients will only need 15 min per day while others may require several hours of therapy.
It’s advisable for one to seek treatment as soon as the symptoms start to show for much faster healing, some tell-tale signs to look out for include anxiety, irritability, fatigue and concentration difficulties. The exact reason why this malady occurs more often in some individuals than others is still a mystery, however researchers speculate that factors like genetics and age play a major role.
Phototherapy for SAD may occasionally be supplemented with the Negative Air Ionization technique, which helps in supplementing thin winter atmosphere with ions that work alongside light beams to bring about proper healing.
Before any therapeutic session, ensure that your SAD lamp is fully charged and emits sufficient amounts of radiance. Dim lanterns may not do you any good. Apart from the above therapy method, one should stay active and social throughout the day so as to leave no room for loneliness which is the root cause of sadness and melancholy.