For many of us, it’s not uncommon to feel sluggish or melancholy during late fall and winter, as these months usually consist of shorter days and limited exposure to natural sunlight.
In a previous blog post, we shared tips on how to overcome Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD), a form of depression that affects a person’s mental health and occurs after a significant change in seasons. And one of the ways we discussed managing your SAD symptoms was through the use of artificial lighting, also known as light therapy boxes.
To give you a better understanding of how light therapy works and the benefits of light therapy, here’s everything you need to know.
What Is Light Therapy and How Does It Work?
Light therapy involves the use of a light therapy box that helps create the illusion of natural sunlight. It sounds simple enough, but experts believe this type of lighting device can actually influence the chemicals in your brain that affect your sleeping patterns and mood. Therefore, its daily exposure may help minimize your depression-like symptoms (Mayo Clinic).
How it Works:
Your treatment may begin as early as fall, when the days start to get shorter and your symptoms begin to affect your mental health and social behaviors (i.e. lack of motivation, feeling tired, sleeping in longer, etc.). Your doctor may prescribe 15-30 minutes (or more) of light box therapy each day, beginning in the early hours to give your brain and body the illusion of waking up to natural sunlight.
The duration of time you spend each day performing light therapy will depend on the strength of your natural light lamp and your individual needs.
Benefits of Light Therapy
Experts believe that light therapy can help improve a person’s serotonin levels, which are responsible for helping your brain and body regulate sleep, mood, memory, and other essential functions:
“…a lack of adequate sunlight causes the body to dial up the production of SERT, a protein that is responsible for transporting the neurotransmitter serotonin in and out of the brain. As SERT production increases, the amount of serotonin available in the brain decreases. Low levels of serotonin are strongly associated with depressive symptoms,” (Psychology Today).
Light therapy is also believed to help manage other types of depression symptoms, sleep disorders, and certain skin conditions (Mayo Clinic).
Types of Natural Light Lamps
Though relatively safe, light box therapy can cause different side effects, including headache, nausea, and eyestrain (Psychology Today); therefore, you’ll want to speak to your mental health provider before beginning light therapy to help you understand the amount of daily exposure recommended to help manage symptoms and which natural light lamp is best for your condition.
Top 3 Natural Light Lamps Include:
- The Philips Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock: This light device helps you wake up in the early, dark hours of the day feeling revitalized and energetic. By increasing its lighting over a 30-minute timeframe, this UV-free lamp is designed to wake you up gradually and more naturally.
- Carex Day-Light Classic Plus Bright Light Therapy Lamp: This adjustable, glare-free option produces over 10,000 lux of white light with less UV rays. Situated on a pedestal, for easy mobility, this lamp was designed specifically to help address SAD symptoms and comes with two customizable brightness settings.
- Circadian Optics Lumos 2.0 Light Therapy Lamp: This portable option allows you to take your light therapy from your home to the office. Its light-weight, compact design is adjustable with three brightness settings and produces over 10,000 lux of LED white light.
Find Support for Your Seasonal Depression
Feeling depressed or struggling to stay motivated this winter can affect your self-esteem, relationship with others, and work performance. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with seasonal depression, you’ll find the help and support you need from the Calli Institute.
If you’d like to speak with a member of our team to learn more about light box therapy or other treatments for managing depression, contact us today! We’ll discuss your individual symptoms and help you find the right treatment plan to help you feel your best.