SAD, otherwise known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, is a form of depression that sufferers feel during the winter when sunlight is limited and unable to help them regulate their hormones efficiently enough to protect against fatigue and mood swings – hence the term winter blues for the less severe form.
In many cases, a bout of SAD can last from September through until April and this means it is vital that patients are aware of what the condition means and how to treat it. This guide on understanding SAD light therapy will look at the importance of natural light and an effective light box when managing the condition.
What treatment options are offered for SAD and why is light therapy so popular?
Some doctors may suggest antidepressants or psychotherapy to deal with the issue but the alternative is to use light therapy, either through greater access to natural sunlight of a light box with a simulated source. Some of these light boxes are recommended by doctors but they are also accessible as over-the-counter options.
The NHS warns patients that “there’s no strong evidence to support the long-term benefits of using light therapy to treat the condition”; however, they appreciate that there are still plenty of positive, short-term results when using these types of products and this ongoing method is perhaps the ideal approach. A cure may not be viable but daily light treatments could have a massive impact on your symptoms.
The importance of regular sunlight or simulation for improving SAD symptoms.
The ideal approach to dealing with SAD and the symptoms that come from a lack of exposure to sunlight is to make the most of whatever sun is available, such as working near the window and taking walks in the midday sun when it is at its most intense; however, this is not always practical and the darkest, wettest winters may not provide adequate opportunity. Light boxes and SAD lamps provide a simulated form of natural light in varying degrees of lux (light intensity) which encourages the production of serotonin to improve your mood and inhibits melatonin, which should stop us from feeling so groggy in the morning.
How can you ensure that you carry out effective SAD treatment with these lamps?
Once you decide to opt for light therapy to try and deal with your SAD, the next step is to find a product that has been proven to be effective and offer the ideal source of daily treatment that fits in with your lifestyle. The best light boxes have a high lux yet are small and portable enough for use in the home and require little more than thirty minutes sessions during breakfast.
Always check the size, design, function and brightness but, most important of all, make sure that the light is ideally designed with SAD in mind and not other conditions as this will have a big impact on its efficiency and UV light levels.
SAD can feel like a never ending cycle but light therapy can make a big difference.
Understanding SAD light therapy is the first step to a resolution and to regaining energy levels and improving your mood.
It is a horrid condition that can effect daily life for a large part of the year but it is treatable and light therapy is one of the best options because of its effects on hormone levels and the simplicity of daily sessions.