Did you know that 10 million Americans are estimated to have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), according to Psychology Today? Even though this depressive disorder is commonly called the winter blues, SAD also affects some people late in the spring or early summer. Thankfully, an effective form of treatment exists that may greatly reduce the symptoms of SAD. This treatment is called light therapy.
If you would like to know more, here are the answers to five frequently asked questions about light therapy.
1. What Is Light Therapy?
SAD occurs when there are reduced levels of sunlight, which is believed to disrupt the body’s internal clock. Reduced levels of sunlight can also decrease serotonin and melatonin levels, which is known to trigger feelings of depression. Light therapy, also known as phototherapy, provides artificial light that mimics natural light.
Believed to affect certain chemicals in the brain, light therapy helps to offset the symptoms associated with SAD. The light is emitted from a light therapy box, which can be used at a desk or a table.
2. Are There Any Negative Side Effects of Light Therapy?
Light therapy is considered very safe, but as with many types of treatment, there can be some negative side effects, according to Mayo Clinic. Some of these side effects include:
- Increased irritability or agitation
For certain people, light therapy has also been known to cause hyperactivity or mania. Some people, including those on certain medications, or those who are overly sensitive to light, should take extra precaution when using light therapy.
In order to minimize the negative side effects associated with light therapy, it’s highly recommended to use it exactly as prescribed. Also, light therapy boxes should be used at least 2 feet away from the eyes.
3. How Effective Is Light Therapy?
Studies show that light therapy is an effective form of treatment for SAD. In order for light therapy to be the most effective, you need to know how many minutes a day you should use light therapy. Some people only need it 20 minutes a day, while others might need it up to 60 minutes.
This often depends on the intensity of the light therapy box, which is measured by luminous emittance (lux). The recommended intensity is a light box with at least 10,000 lux. A few other ways to ensure its effectiveness is to use it consistently and know what time of the day to use it. Many people do it right away in the morning.
You should note that light therapy won’t necessarily cure SAD. However, this type of therapy has a good chance of decreasing the symptoms associated with SAD. Also, you will most likely experience an increase in energy and feel better about life in general.
4. Does Light Therapy Treat Other Conditions?
Along with treating SAD, light therapy has also been proven to reduce symptoms of non-seasonal depression. Here are some other conditions Mayo Clinic states light therapy effectively treats:
- Sleep disorders
- Jet lag
- Skin conditions, such as psoriasis and acne
Some people also use light therapy to help them adjust to working a nighttime schedule.
5. Where Can I Get a Light Therapy Box?
Winter is coming soon to Minnesota, and if you suffer from SAD, you may want to consider a light therapy desk lamp from Corner Home Medical. Contact us today to see how we can help you with all your light therapy needs.
We are a family-owned and operated medical supplies company that serves customers throughout Minnesota, including the Twin Cities, Rochester, St. Cloud, and the surrounding areas.