I got this in my e-mail. I know people who have used “light boxes” and they say it really helps.
The change to daylight saving time in the fall confirms what many of us have been noticing for the last few months – our days are getting shorter, wetter and colder. For some of us with Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD this is a very tough time of the year.
If we have SAD or the milder version called the Winter Blues, our energy level has begun to diminish, our mood is lower and that grey cloud outside might seem to follow us everywhere we go. As we get less exposure to sunlight our risk of depression increases. This biological process is amplified by our holiday preparations, shopping, financial concerns, family relationship issues and the like.
What can we do to counter the effects of SAD and the related year-end holiday issues? The good news is that there is much you can do to alleviate this problem.
Light Therapy is very effective for treating SAD and the Winter Blues. It helps 70 to 80% of the people who use it – more than for just about anything else you can do to treat depression.
What is Light Therapy? It’s getting exposure to light that is as bright as sunlight, early in the day usually with the help of a Light Therapy “Box” (appliance).
To use light therapy you put a light box off to the side or above you while you read or work on your computer. The light shines on your face – you don’t look directly at it. You do this for about 30 minutes first thing in the morning and it can really perk you up – usually in a few days to a couple of weeks.
While this works well for people with Major Depressive Disorder, if you have Bipolar Disorder or any eye problems you should check with your doctor first. Light Therapy, like antidepressants, can trigger mania, hypomania or mixed states in people with Bipolar Disorder. Likewise, light therapy can create problems for people who have eye issues.
NOTE FROM ME: I don’t believe in SAD. I think everyone slows down in winter. We’re supposed to! It comes from evolution. We need to conserve energy because it’s cold out. Some gain weight in winter. Guess why? Because your body wants to be warm. You slow down because your body needs to conserve energy to keep itself warm and working efficiently. I do know that some are more affected by light changes than others. But why call this a disorder? There’s nothing “disordered” about it.
I do light therapy myself. I reduce light a few hours before bedtime. I use a minimal amount of artificial light at night. I wear amber glasses to block out blue light if I have to use artificial light. I even use candlelight rather than an artificial light that has more blue light in it.
I sleep much better and this “cure” has worked better than any sleeping pill I’ve ever taken.
It’s all about retraining your body to know, “It’s time to sleep.” We spend so much time in artificial light and this confuses our bodies into thinking they should stay awake. You can get programmed all wrong and end up rather frustrated, going from doctor to doctor and trying cures that cause more harm than good.
I know when it all started. It was triggered by abuse. I went to a “hospital” to get help for trauma I’d experienced in another hospital. But with all the artificial light and no sunlight at all during the day, my body got rather messed up with its schedule. What followed was over three years of the worst case of insomnia I’ve ever heard of.
My shrink terrorized me, calling me manic when I wasn’t. She tried one pill after another and none worked. She had stopped listening and I asked myself what the heck was going on with her.
Now, I get plenty of sunlight during the day. I mean going right out into the sun. In the Northern Hemisphere, even in winter, the sun shines just fine. The snow will amplify sunlight and you can even get a sunburn in winter. Keep your eyes open cuz that’s how your body knows, “It’s time to be awake.”
Do expect to be feeling a little less energy in winter, the blues, or even feeling downright depressed. Guess what? You are human.