Treating SAD with Light Box Therapy

If you’ve ever experienced a case of the winter blues or find yourself feeling down on gloomy days, there’s a good chance that you suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is a mood disorder in which sufferers experience depressive symptoms during the winter months of the year, and sometimes during other seasons as well. Fortunately, there are several different methods of treatment available for SAD.

In the darker Arctic regions of the world (such as Finland) there is a higher diagnosis of SAD than most other places, so it is believed that the disorder is caused by the lower light levels associated with the winter months. While some treat SAD with drugs, one form of treatment that is rising in popularity recently is the light therapy box. Light therapy products mimic certain wavelengths of light associated with the warmer, summer months and aid in reducing depressive symptoms during days when natural sunlight is not available. SAD light therapy causes a biochemical change in the brain that can elevate mood and reduce symptoms of depression.

While it’s possible to make your own seasonal affective disorder lights, it’s more practical to buy a SAD light box over-the-counter so that you’re assured the proper wavelengths of light to alleviate depressive symptoms. Because the Food and Drug Administration has not officially approved the depression light box, it’s important to research the seller before buying to ensure that it’s a reputable retailer.

When shopping for the best SAD light box, consider the degree of UV protection, light intensity, and light direction. It is important to buy a light box that offers some sort of ultraviolet light protection in order to avoid eye and skin damage. Intensity is also important because if it’s not high enough, the light therapy lamp might only be effective from a few inches away. Boxes with higher intensity stay effective up to several feet away. Also, light direction needs to come from above eye-level, so find a box shaped to direct light downward and place it in a spot just over head level.

Another effective treatment of seasonal affective disorder is the use of vitamin D supplements. Low vitamin D levels may cause depressive symptoms, and as sun exposure is a major provider of vitamin D, it’s only logical that lowered levels during winter months could be a cause of the disorder. Eating foods rich in vitamin D, such as eggs and fatty fish like salmon, or taking vitamin D tablets can effectively treat SAD if low vitamin D is the cause. Some people find that as little as fifteen minutes a day of direct sunlight exposure on the bare skin of the face of hands can elevate vitamin D levels.

So even though seasonal affective disorder only occurs at certain times of the year, it should still be treated just as seriously as others forms of depression. Through the use of a light therapy lamp and other alternative methods of treatment, there is a high possibility of alleviating some, if not all of your depressive symptoms.

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