How light therapy can help to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

sad girl

Are you feeling SAD this winter or do you know someone who is just not themselves and are feeling depressed? It may feel embarrassing and uncomfortable to visit a GP to talk about mental health issues but no-one should suffer in silence. Although mental health is a sensitive topic it’s not something you should ignore because it can really affect your overall health. You should know that there are treatments available for SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) which do not include anti-depressants. One of them is a bright light therapy which I am going to talk about in this article but first, let’s look at what SAD is and its symptoms.

EDIT: The giveaway to win Innolux Aurora light box with dimmer has now ended. There will be more giveaways on Be Healthy Now in the future and if you don’t want to miss out subscribe here for weekly blog updates.

What is SAD?

Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD is a form of depression which is more common in winter when days are shorter and dark and the weather is gloomy. It doesn’t help that most of us work indoors which means that we don’t receive the amount of light we should and this disrupts our body clock. 

Your body uses sunlight to time various important functions, such as when you wake up, so lower light levels during the winter may disrupt your body clock and lead to symptoms of SAD. (NHS)

People who suffer from SAD tend to have higher levels of melatonin, a hormone that makes you feel sleepy. Another hormone called serotonin also plays a role in SAD – this hormone affects your mood, appetite and sleep and a lack of sunlight may lead to lower serotonin levels, which is linked to feelings of depression.

SAD symptoms

People with SAD may suffer from the following symptoms:

  • a persistent low mood
  • a loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities
  • irritability
  • feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness
  • feeling lethargic (lacking in energy) and sleepy during the day
  • sleeping for longer than normal and finding it hard to get up in the morning
  • craving carbohydrates and gaining weight

SAD treatments

There is a wide range of treatments available for SAD but the main ones are: 

  • talking therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or counselling 
  • light therapy – where a special lamp called a light box is used to simulate exposure to sunlight
  • lifestyle changes (exercise, diet)
  • antidepressants

As a strong advocate of natural treatments, I am against antidepressants but I understand that some people do need them in order to get better. Personally, I would take antidepressants as a last resort and try other therapies first. If you think you have SAD and need a treatment you should, of course, discuss your options with your GP first. Light therapy for treating SAD is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) but it is not usually available on the NHS.

How light therapy can help

Some studies have shown that light therapy can be an effective treatment for SAD because it increases your exposure to light during the winter months. Light from an ordinary light bulb (200-500 Lux) is not sufficient but light emitted from a specially designed Light box at an intensity of 10000 Lux has been found to be effective in up to 85% of diagnosed cases.

Aurora with dimmer SAD light box
Aurora with dimmer SAD light box

Exposure to very bright light for an average of 20-30 minutes suppresses the brain’s secretion of melatonin and hence decreases the feelings of lethargy, dullness and sleep.

Bright light therapy is beneficial for everybody, not only for those who suffer from SAD. You can also benefit if:

  • you suffer from sleep disorders
  • you are a woman and suffer from postpartum depression and pre-menstrual syndrome
  • you just want to boost your morale and energy levels
  • you are a frequent flyer and regularly suffer from jet lag
  • you are an employee who works shifts
  • you have chronic fatigue

Bright light therapy in the early morning indeed helps to realign your internal body clock, which in turn helps you to obtain a “get-up-and-go” feeling and ultimately helps you to complete your tasks throughout the day.

Bright light therapy with Innolux Aurora Light with dimmer

Finally, we get to the part when I introduce you to SAD light box – Innolux Aurora with a dimmer! This SAD light box has a luminosity of 10 000 LUX at 23cm distance and can be used all year round at home, to enhance your well-being at any time or even at work, to get a boost. The added bonus is that this bright light lamp is elegant and stylish so it would make any home look prettier.

When not in use Innolux Aurora can be dimmed and used as a normal interior lamp. Isn’t that cool?

win SAD light box Innolux Aurora

One very lucky reader will win Innolux Aurora bright light worth £158.99 and to enter you need to fill in the Rafflecopter form below. The giveaway is open to UK residents only, age 18 and over. For full terms & conditions see the widget below. Thank you to PureLifestyleWonders who are providing the prize and good luck to everybody who enters!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Apart from SAD light boxes, on PureLifestyleWonders website you will also find other health products such as air purifiers, dehumidifiers, anti-allergy bedding, and more. Check their website out here.

 

SOURCES:
http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad/causes-of-sad/#.WEh_btSLQ1I
http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Seasonal-affective-disorder/Pages/Introduction.aspx
https://www.purelifestylewonders.com/health/sad-light-box

What is SAD?

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22 Comments

  1. Keep meaning to get one of this light therapy lights, so needed around this time of the year. Energy levels are so bad will have to look to get one in the new year.

  2. I love to be happy but some time I can’t help that sad emotions surfacing. It this work surely this company would have a life long agreement with me.

    1. We all have sad moments, right? There’s been studies which showed that this works for a big percentage of people. Hopefully it works for you as well if you do get to try it.

  3. I dont need this, but feel my son does. Would love this for him x No mum wants to see their child struggling. x

  4. I have been advised to get one of these but as a single disabled mum of 4 and a carer for my eldest son its not alway top priority

  5. Hello,

    I was looking at the below page on your website that mentioned a mental health topic, and I’m curious if you’d be open to me writing some unique content for your audience on the subject. It was this page of your site that I was looking at:

    http://www.behealthynow.co.uk/natural-health/treat-sad-with-bright-light-therapy-aurora/

    When you have time, please let me know what you think. I’ve been writing about various topics for some time now, and would love the opportunity to contribute unique content to your site. I can write an article or two. Let me know what you think. Thank you!

    Marie

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