Seasonal Affective Disorder, or Winter Blues. How a light box can help lift the depression

A lightbox can dispel the Winter Blues

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The curse of Seasonal Affective Disorder or Winter Blues


Of all the things I have to thank God for inspiring me to put into my life, a lightbox must be one of the most beneficial. In this short article I will attempt to sing the praises of lightboxes and explain how a lightbox can literally lighten up your life and dispel the dreaded Seasonal Affective Disorder or Winter Blues.


At this time of year with the long winter nights placing a cloak of gloom round our shoulders and the feeling that the delights of the Spring days are, at least four or five months in the future, some of us succumb to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), or it’s less debilitating relation Winter Blues. These conditions are caused in many by the lack of bright light reaching the retina, and the symptoms can include feelings of depression, as well as, a lack of energy, and a tendency to fall asleep in the evenings.



These are conditions that I have suffered from in my own life, especially in recent years, as I lived in a flat where, even in summer, there was always a lack of natural sunlight. Fortunately I do not live there any longer, but the legacy of depression, lethargy, and the tendency to fall asleep in the evenings, pursued me to my present more healthy home. This was probably because I moved in October, and the days were already getting shorter anyway.


A light box cured my disorder

I had often heard of light boxes in the past, but for reasons not unconnected with the emptiness of my wallet, I was always unable to acquire one to see what the effect would be. But a recent easing in my pecuniary circumstances meant that I had some disposable income. Accordingly I took the time to log in to my Amazon account, and order myself a light box. I also ordered one for a friend who suffered a lot with bouts of depression, and who also lived in a flat that lacked the blessings of lots of natural sunlight.

When my light box arrived it was a particularly dull foggy day, such as is the norm in the southeast of England in November. I was feeling somewhat down, and devoid of energy. I unpacked it, and switched it on. Immediately the room was flooded with a bright warm white light. It was almost as if someone had flushed my low feeling down the toilet. The effect was instantaneous. I left the light on for around one and a half hours. That night, although I had a strong coffee, around nine o clock, I felt no desire to fall asleep. This was the first time in over a year that I managed to watch television for three hours, without nodding off. That same night I slept soundly for eight hours with no interruptions. Also, a first for a long time.

When I spoke to my friend, I discovered a similar transformation in his life, although in his case it was more graduated. But in each of our cases, the lifting of the depression, and the regaining of the “Joy de Vivre”, dates from the day that we acquired the light boxes.

How a light box works

With a good quality light box, it is not necessary to sit staring into it for hours. You can just have it switched on, diagonally from where you work. The light does have to reach your retinas in order to give you the full benefit, but at 11,000 lumens, which mine gives, indirect exposure can be sufficient. There are some cheap light boxes available, but these do not have the same illuminesence, and you may have to stare directly into them to feel the benefit.

The actual light tubes in a good light box, should last for 500 hours before needing replacement. That should give you around a year of constant use.

If, like me, you suffer from feelings of depression, and lethargy, during the dark days of the year, give consideration to adopting my solution to the problem. Let the light back into your life. Get a light box.

My light box is still lifting my spirits and banishing the Winter Blues

It's almost a year since I purchased a light box and it is still doing its job quite effectively. The depression, that I used to suffer from on gloomy days, is a thing of the past. My brain feels more active and I no longer fall asleep in the evenings. Although its principal usefulness is during the winter months, the bad summer we have been enduring means that it has been switched on almost every day. Despite this extra use, none of the bulbs have gone and it is still working as perfectly as the day I bought it. My light box was definitely a worthwhile purchase.

Some glorious music to go with your enhanced mood.

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Comments 24 comments

Marlin 55 profile image

Marlin 55 5 years ago from USA

This is a great hub and some very good information. I had a sun lamp in my office at one time to neutralize the light from the computer screen and the fluorescent overhead light and I can tell that they really work. Great article!


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 5 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom Author

Thanks Marlin 55. I had my light box on for about two hours this morning, because it was a foggy dull day. It definitely lifts the mood. I will stick it on for a while this evening, around four o clock till six.


nemanjaboskov profile image

nemanjaboskov 5 years ago from Serbia

I haven't heard about the condition you have mentioned here, but I have had the same problems with lack of energy and nodding off...

Thanks for another great hub, Chris!


drbj profile image

drbj 5 years ago from south Florida

Excellent explanation of SAD and how to overcome it, christopher. I always thought that this acronym was particularly meaningful for the disorder it describes ... sad! Does your light box have those long-lasting bulbs/tubes or the garden variety kind? Just wonderin'.


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 5 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom Author

Hi Nemanja.

Thanks for reading. This week I haven't fallen asleep in the evening, except for once when I was up very early. Tonight I feel full of energy, and it is past eleven o clock. Mind you, I did have the light box on for around three hours this morning.


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 5 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom Author

Hi drbj.

Thanks for your appreciation.

My light box has four flourescent tubes. According to the booklet that came with it, they should last for 500 hours before dimming. Since I only bought it a week ago, I have not had it on long enough to test that claim.


De Greek profile image

De Greek 5 years ago from UK

Christopher, what a wonderful and useful story! Thankfully i do not suffer from the condition, but you inspire me to look into purchasing one of these "light boxes". It would have been useful if you had told us the cost :-)


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 5 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom Author

Hi De Greek. Thanks for reading.

I paid £126 for mine on Amazon. It was one of the better ones. It was £117. But VAT and delivery cost pushed the price up. They are now selling them at a reduced rate. Must be a pre Christmas sale. It is worth ordering one on Amazon, because you can get express next morning delivery.


RP1010 5 years ago from United Kingdom

Hmmm your hub may well have shed light on what might be a reason why I felt so thoroughly miserable on Monday for no apparent reason!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

Hi, christopher, I have heard of them but never got around to getting one, I definitely need it! I suffer with headaches in the winter and believe it is because of the cold and lack of sunlight, great idea!


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 5 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom Author

Hi RP1010. If the weather was dull on Monday, that might be the reason why you were feeling down. I used to find that January and February were the worst times. I am hoping that there will be no problems this year.


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 5 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom Author

Hi Nell.

They are definitely a good idea. Mine seems to be transforming my life after just a week. I am certainly a lot less tired than I was.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 5 years ago from South Africa

This is so interesting - that the lack of bright light reaching the retina could be the reason for feelings of depression, lack of energy and a tendency to fall asleep. This is actually the natural intention of dawn - to force diurnal people and animals to rest/sleep.

Thanks for this interesting hub, Christopher. You have given me a lot to think about - curtains I keep closed in order to feel relaxed... the brightness of my computer screen... the lack of oxygen, due to relaxed shallow breathing in a dimmed room...

You have given me a lot to think about. Take care!


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 5 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom Author

Hi Martie.

There is probably an evolutionary reason for it, because early man was probably programmed to be more lively during the spring and summer months, so he could go out and hunt, and plant crops etc.

That is my feeling about it anyway.

Incidentally, people who live in tropical countries, where they get loads of sunshine all year round, don't suffer so much with either Seasonal Affective Disorder, or Winter Blues.


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 5 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

I count on you for the classical music - and you've not disappointed!!


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 5 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom Author

Hi Wesman. I am glad you liked the music. It would be perfect for an alarm call.

I guess that you wouldn't really need a light box in Texas. It is probably light and sunny there all the time.


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 5 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

Yes definitely. I've read about these things for years - especially in regards to places like Iceland.

I know that I'm so moody already that I'd be needing one should I be living somewhere far North.


VAMPGYRL420 profile image

VAMPGYRL420 3 years ago from The Eastern Shore of Virginia, Maryland and Delaware, U.S.A.

Another wonderfully written and informative hub, Christopheranton. It pleases me greatly to know that you have found a way to remove the doom and gloom from your life, and it inspires me to purchase my own light box for next winter. I live on the Chesapeake Bay, which means that fog rolls in often, especially during the fall and winter months. Thank you for the information!


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 3 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom Author

Hi VAMPGYRL,430.

I've had a lot of use for mine this year as well, because the winter seemed to be neverending. I usually put it on for about two hours in the morning. The great thing about mine, is that none of the bulbs have needed replacing, even though it has been in use for over a year now.


VAMPGYRL420 profile image

VAMPGYRL420 3 years ago from The Eastern Shore of Virginia, Maryland and Delaware, U.S.A.

Very nice :) I often use colored bulbs in the practice of chromotherapy. However, something stronger is often necessary during the winter months; because of the doom and gloom. Cabin fever is no fun. It's spring here now and everything is coming into bloom again. But, I will need something to keep me going for next winter...I wonder, which lightbox do you use?


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 3 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom Author

It is a "LUMIE" lightbox. I bought it on Amazon and I think I paid around £100 for it. If you type in "LUMIE" lightbox on Amazon, they will be advertised there. There are cheaper ones available, but they are not as good. Also if the lightbulbs don't last as well, you have the hassle of trying to get new ones. In the meantime, enjoy your summer.


VAMPGYRL420 profile image

VAMPGYRL420 3 years ago from The Eastern Shore of Virginia, Maryland and Delaware, U.S.A.

Thank you very much! I will look for one :) Today is drab, chilly and windy...Eastern Shore weather is rather impulsive lol However, even the new leaves on the trees is a major improvement :) Sending blessings over to you :)


Mayashappyplace profile image

Mayashappyplace 14 months ago from NY

Thank you for this. I actually have one which was gifted to me when I was doing a lot of illustration work. I had no idea that it mimics sunlight which would be nice to have on these mostly rainy days lately!


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 14 months ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom Author

It's brilliant for these dark mornings. I've just started using mine again from last week. I hope you get great benefit from yours.

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