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The Use of Light Therapy for Seasonal Affective Disorder

Posted Jun 09 2011 7:21pm

Hello there! I hope that your Wednesday has gone smoothly and that you are steam rolling toward the weekend. As I mentioned in my earlier post, I had been thinking that I would take the day off from running because the rainy day and feeling a bit tired. Then the rain stopped and immediately my energy level soared, so I headed to the gym for a great workout. I have known for quite some time that my mood is strongly influenced by the weather but what it was amazing how quickly my mood changed with exposure to little sunshine!

lake walk

As I have mentioned before, I struggle with anxiety and depression. After hitting a low point in January, I started taking an antidepressant to lift my mood and consequently feel significantly better. Unfortunately, whenever the Chicago weather becomes gloomy so does my mood.

As much as I would love to move to Hawaii, the Virgin Islands or Southern California where the sun shines year round, that probably isn’t going to happen. Therefore, Nick and I have been discussing the possibility of using light therapy to improve my mood. Though, I have heard of light/photo therapy, many times before, I never really researched the subject until today. Here is what I learned:

  • Light therapy consists of exposure to daylight or other specific wavelengths of light emitted from special lamps or lasers.
  • Phototherapy has been shown to be effective at treating 85% of individuals with Seasonal Affective Disorder, a depressive condition which is caused by changes in the level of light exposure. Source
  • Doctors typically recommend that individuals using phototherapy expose themselves to the therapeutic light for 15 to 30 minutes a day during the winter months. Source
  • Light therapy instruments vary greatly in design and can range in cost from as little as $45 to over $200. Some health insurance plans cover part or all of the cost.
  • The few side effects associated with light therapy (headache, nausea, eyestrain, agitation, dry mouth, sleep problems) typically subside within a few days. Source

After learning about all the benefits of light therapy, I am definitely going to discuss the option with my doctor. Hopefully, it can help me turn those gloomy days into cheery ones!

I would love to hear from you…

Have you heard of or used light therapy?

What are your thoughts on the treatment?

Don’t forget to check out my earlier post on Sunwarrior and enter the charitable giveaway!

For those of you who asked, Sunwarrior products can be ordered via the online Sunwarrior store .

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