Seasonal affective disorder, otherwise known as SAD, is seasonal depression (sometimes known as winter depression) that generally materializes at the same time every year. People with SAD typically uses light therapy to offset their symptoms.
For most people this is earmarked with feeling lethargic, depressed, and unlike themselves in the fall and winter, only to begin feeling better when spring comes around. While there are individuals who may feel depressed in the spring or early summer, this is not the case for the majority of SAD sufferers.
How Does SAD Affect People?
For those who suffer from this mood disorder, they can begin to lose interest in activities or hobbies that they were once passionate about. Additionally, they may find themselves turning to carbohydrates rather than healthy foods.
Most individuals are also more likely to feel fatigued throughout the day and experience difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. Overall, this will leave someone not feeling like they normally do and becoming withdrawn until the spring or summer.
It’s estimated that 10-20% of individuals suffer from a mild form of SAD. Women in particular are four times more likely to be affected than men. It’s rare to see this disorder in children, as it normally begins after the age of 20.
Additionally, seasonal affective disorder is more common for those who live in more intense winter climates, such as states in the north.
What is Light Treatment for SAD?
There are many treatments available for sufferers of this disorder, although light therapy is among the most popular. Just as the name states, this is a specialty light or lamp that’s thought to help offset the issues that are caused by the lack of sunlight in the fall and winter. These issues include:
Imbalanced Circadian Rhythm
When you don’t have enough sunlight, your body’s internal clock may become imbalanced and leave you feeling sad or even depressed.
Imbalanced Melatonin Levels
Melatonin, which is a hormone that helps regulate your sleep and mood, can become imbalanced when your sleep cycle becomes interrupted or the seasons begin to change.
Decreased Serotonin Level
The reduced sunlight experienced in the fall and winter can contribute to a decrease in the chemical serotonin. Due to the fact that this plays a role in mood, it’s easy to see why it can be associated with SAD.
Best Seasonal Affective Disorder Lights
If you search online you’ll find that there are many choices of light therapy boxes that can be used for SAD. However, not all are created equally. In order to ensure you invest in one that you enjoy using, take a look at the recommended lights below. These are some of the most highly reviewed on the market and come with all the features that you’d want in this type of device.
Rating: (4.6 / 5)
In addition to this, it provides 5500k color temperature, which is the same color temperature of the noonday sun.
This device is also flexible due to the three hinges on the light panel, top, and base.
Adding to the benefits is the fact that there’s a diffuser panel installed in front of the LED lights to create even light that reduces eye-strain and glare.
Rating: (4.5 / 5)
It has been designed in a small and compact unit so it can be taken anywhere from the office to the bedroom.
In addition to this, it offers a variety of settings so you can choose which light intensity is right for you.
There are also two no-glare lenses that you can easily install depending on your needs.
Rating: (4.3 / 5)
To put this in perspective, this is much the same as a bright blue sky that you’d see outdoors on a clear day.
The portable design also has a timer selection so you can choose when it comes off and on.
It also works in conjunction with the Sun Touch Aroma Therapy capsule, which is sold separately and will dispense your choice of fragrance to help improve mood.
Rating: (4.6 / 5)
It offers 10,000 lux lighting with UV blocked for safety.
To provide a customized experience, users can adjust the panel angle as well as 5 different elevation settings.
In addition to this, the design was made with an electronically powered ballast, which means no flickering or humming will be experienced when this device is on.
Rating: (4.4 / 5)
However, it has excellent reviews and offers 10,000 lux bright light in a portable unit that’s easy to take with you anywhere.
It can also be moved in a horizontal or vertical position depending on user preference.
Making this even better is the added energy efficiency, as it only uses 48 watts of power.
How to Use Light Therapy
Light therapy works by mimicking the light that you would see outdoors during the spring or summer. Many health care providers believe that this can help bring on a chemical change in the brain so the proper chemicals become balanced once again. However, not any light will work. You must purchase a specialty light that provides 10,000 lux of light and does not expose the user to large amounts of UV light. Due to the fact that this is not regulated by the FDA (although has been proven to be safe), a light therapy box can be purchased without a prescription.
To use your light, you can leave it on a desk or in any room of your home that you spend a lot of time in. This will ensure you have the most exposure possible, whether you are working or preparing lunch for the family. Another option is to invest in a gradual light box that helps you wake up in the morning. This works by turning on an hour or so before your alarm goes off and gradually getting brighter, much like the natural sunrise. With this light entering into your room, you’ll be more likely to wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the day than you would in a dark and dreary room with no sun.