By Clarissa Allison | November 20th, 2015
Most of us have stood in awe of a beautiful sunrise at dawn, filled with peace, tranquility and an eagerness to begin a productive day. But long winters of grey skies, rain, snow and sleet with no sign of the energizing sun can also have a serious impact on a person’s mental state. When “the blahs” transform into depression with its symptoms subsiding in the spring and summer, these winter blues are clinically referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D). S.A.D. is a mood disorder connected with depression and seasonal variations of light. Seasonal Affective Disorder affects approximately half million people every winter between September and April, peaking in December, January and February.
Although there is no specific test to diagnose this condition, the most common symptoms include:
- Sleeping problems
- Mood changes
- Weight Gain
S.A.D. affects more women than men by 3:1. It may cause problems with a brain chemical called serotonin that affects mood, which is why it is associated with depression. People who live in places with long winter nights are more at risk for S.A.D. Talk to your health care provider if you have been experiencing some of the aforementioned symptoms. While your doctor cannot control Mother Nature or how long she decides to blanket the skies with dreary clouds, modern technology has stepped up to the challenge with the use of “bright light therapy” or “dawn simulation” to combat the seasonal blues.
Light Therapy and Its Benefits
A psychiatrist and a Senior Researcher for the National Institute of Mental Health, Dr. Norman Rosenthal was the first to recognize Seasonal Affective Disorder in the 1980’s. He paved the way for the use of light therapy as an antidepressant. Light therapy uses a special lamp with a very bright light that mimics outdoor light exposure and high-intensity sunlight. According to the Mayo Clinic “exposure to bright light from a light therapy box or lamp is thought to alter your circadian rhythms and suppress your body’s natural release of melatonin. Together, these cause biochemical changes in your brain that help reduce or control symptoms of seasonal affective disorder and other conditions.”
Treatment is started before the symptoms of S.A.D. take place, in the fall or early winter. Follow your health care provider’s plan on utilizing light therapy. One recommendation is to sit two feet away from the light source for about half an hour each day, keeping your eyes open while not looking directly at the light. This is usually done early in the morning to simulate sunrise.
At Louie Lighting, we offer a few types of light therapy from Natural Spectrum light sources.
The HappyLight from Verilux Lighting sits on a desk, making it very easy to work or continue your day while benefiting from the effects of non-UV artificial sunlight. The Natural Spectrum Daylight from your HappyLight Deluxe Energy Lamp increases energy during exercise and curbs carbohydrate cravings. Kick start your wellness program, see results and achieve a healthy balanced lifestyle with HappyLights.
Another table option, also from Verilux is the Heritage Natural Spectrum desk lamp. With a swing arm and discreet look, this is a great option for your office. The 3-way switch gives you the flexibility of adjusting the brightness to the equivalent of a 75, 100, or 150 watts using only 27 watts of energy. And this unique bulb has a patented blend of earth phosphors and lasts up to 10 times longer than ordinary bulb, creating less waste for the planet and more savings for you.
Bulbrite’s Eco Halogen True Daylight lamps produce less glare and utilize neodymium to replicate sunlight, letting you enjoy the benefits of natural daylight in your home.
- Ideal for general residential and commercial applications
- Shows colors more accurately with less glare reducing fatigue; utilizes neodymium glass (not coating) which filters out the yellow hue associated with Incandescent’s
- Dimensions: Maximum Overall Length is 4.1875 – 4.2 inches; Bulb Diameter is 2.38 inches
Is light therapy for everyone?
Studies have shown light therapy to be very effective in comparison to placebo and as effective as antidepressants in many cases of non-severe S.A.D. Many people have reported that light therapy worked faster than antidepressants with positive effects beginning just a few days of starting treatment. Some may find that light therapy takes a few weeks to work, which can also be the case for most people who take antidepressant medications.
People who take medicines that make them more sensitive to light, such as certain psoriasis drugs, antibiotics, or antipsychotics, should not use light therapy.
If you have eye problems (such as glaucoma, cataracts, retinal detachment, retinopathy) predisposing factors for eye complications (i.e., diabetes, lupus), using medicated externally applied creams or lotions (e.g. Retin-A) or if you are taking medications that have photosensitizing effects in humans (e.g., lithium, melatonin), you should not use a bright light therapy system without first consulting your physician.
Have you had experience with the benefits of light therapy treatment? Do you have questions on which lamp will work best for you? We’d love to hear from you. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-877-385-2104.
Enjoy the light.