Shine Some Light on Your Winter Blues

During the winter, it’s not uncommon for some people to go an entire day without seeing natural sunlight — it’s dark during their early morning commutes, and after a long day at the office, it’s dark when they leave to go home. The lack of sunshine can make the winter season feel dreary, but in some cases, it can even contribute to a form of clinical depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.

Shine Some Light on Your Winter Blues
Don’t feel like yourself during the dark days of winter? Talk to your medical professional about light therapy.

Though the symptoms of SAD can vary, sufferers often feel anxious, hopeless, or irritable. They may experience excessive fatigue, weight gain, or difficulty concentrating or sleeping. The exact causes of SAD remain a developing area of medical study, but current research suggests the causes may involve light sensitivity and changes to the body’s natural rhythms, called circadian rhythms.

Under the care of medical professionals, some people find relief from their SAD symptoms with treatment that involves the use of antidepressants or other medications. But roughly half of SAD sufferers effectively treat their winter blues at home with simple light therapy, using special lights called “light boxes.”

Sunrise On Demand

Most light boxes emit light from a large panel to simulate the experience of standing outside on a sunny day. Lights designed specifically for SAD therapy display a level of light roughly 100 times brighter than normal indoor lighting, though they’re still only about one fifth as strong as the natural light you would experience on a sunny day.

Doctors and therapists usually instruct their patients to use the lights for about 30 minutes per day, often first thing in the morning. Users must keep their eyes open, but they shouldn’t look directly at the light. It’s safe to multitask in the presence of the light box by reading, planning your day, or listening to the radio.

Light boxes aren’t regulated as medical devices by the FDA, and features vary among individual models. If you’re considering experimenting with light therapy as a treatment for SAD, it’s best to do so under the guidance of a medical professional. Therapists with experience treating patients for SAD may be able to provide tailored advice on which lights work best for individual needs.

Check With the Pros

Shine Some Light on Your Winter Blues
Winter scenes full of sunlight can be beautiful, but they’re no substitute for the fresh green of spring.

Though it can seem at times like the winter will never end, it always gives way to spring. With the changing of the seasons, SAD sufferers typically experience noticeable improvement in their symptoms. But just because winter is temporary doesn’t mean you should have to endure the sadness and restlessness that too often comes along with the darkness of the season.

If your medical professional thinks light therapy is the right choice for your winter blues, consider consulting with an electrician if you have any questions or concerns about safely using such powerful lights in your home. If you find that light boxes are effective at helping you manage the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder, a skilled electrician can even help you integrate the lights permanently into a space designed specifically for your sunny morning sessions.

Disclaimer: Direct Energy provides this post as an information resource only. It should not be used for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.

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