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LIGHT THERAPY FOR SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER

 

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Many people complain about feeling down, having less energy, putting on a few pounds, and having difficulty getting up in the morning throughout the dark short days of winter.

Some of the SAD symptoms are: increased need for sleep, excessive fatigue, morning drowsiness, reduced ability to withstand stress, irritation, variations of appetite such as increased yearning for sweet food, weight problems, concentration problems, melancholy, significantly reduced work efficiency.

People suffering from SAD experience these and other symptoms to such a degree that they feel unable to function normally. They often feel chronically depressed and fatigued, and want to withdraw from the world and to avoid social contacts. Symptoms begin and end around the same time each year for each person.

Treatment for SAD includes light therapy, in which you sit at a certain distance from artificial bright lights, usually in the morning. Another form of light therapy called dawn simulation is also used. With dawn simulation, lights in your bedroom are programmed to come on gradually a few hours before you wake up in the morning.

Your doctor may also prescribe antidepressant medications.

Most people take the treatments at home, although some receive therapy in an office or clinic. If you are being treated by a therapist, you may be asked to lie on a couch under a lamp that emits at least 2,500 lux of illumination—about half the brightness of full sunlight. To receive any benefit from this therapy, you must keep your eyes open during the entire session

For home treatments, you'll probably be advised to buy a light box. Most of these devices measure approximately 2 feet by 2 feet and enclose a full-spectrum or bright white light that is angled toward your face. While most of these lights are 2,500 lux, some may be as bright as 10,000 lux. If you do not wish to purchase a light box, you can use any high-intensity fluorescent lamp that does not emit ultraviolet rays.

Place the box on a table or other flat surface where it is level with your eyes. You should sit about 18 inches from the box, facing the light source, but never looking directly at the bulb

Bright light therapy can be taken normally throughout the dark season and started as a preventive. Many offices have replaced their conventional desktop lamps by bright light desktop systems to enable their employees to start their working day by receiving half an hour of personal bright light therapy.

When should light therapy be used?

Recent studies show that light therapy may be most effective when used first thing in the morning upon awakening. You and your health professional can determine when light therapy works best for you. While response to this therapy usually occurs within 2 to 4 days, it may take up to 3 weeks of light therapy before symptoms of SAD (such as depression) are relieved.

Read More About Light Therapy, Benefits, When to Use, When to Avoid and How to Use Light Therapy

 

 

 

 

 

       
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