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Using SAD Lamps to Treat Seasonal Depression

Updated on March 12, 2011

Seasonal Affective Disorder is one of the most common mental health conditions affecting people around the world. The disorder is also commonly referred to as seasonal depression, and many researchers believe that the condition is caused by fewer hours of sunlight in the day during cooler months of the year. Seasonal Affective Disorder symptoms are more common in January and February for people in most parts of the United States, but symptoms of depression can last for weeks longer in cooler climates. Some experts contend that daylight savings time may also have an impact on Seasonal Affective Disorder. The days get shorter, and depression begins to set in. Seasonal Affective Disorder is much more than cabin fever. People with Seasonal Affective Disorder typically do not have symptoms of depression during other times of the year.

People are like plants in that they need sunlight to thrive. Fortunately, SAD lamps are designed to help replace some of the sunlight lost from shorter days and reduce the symptoms of seasonal depression. SAD lamps are small light boxes that are used inside of the home. They work by imitating the sun’s UV rays. Patients sit in front the SAD lamp for a period of 30-60 minutes each day. It is important that those using SAD lamps do not look directly at the light, and most people can continue doing other types of desk activities while sitting in front of the lamp. 

People who have used these kinds of light boxes say that they feel better, they can sleep better, and they wake up feeling energized. Many people report a complete turnaround in depression symptoms after using the SAD lamp for only a couple of days, and are left with a lighter, happier mood. You only need to spend 30 minutes each morning behind your SAD lamp, and it only takes about five days for you to start feeling better. Most of these lamps have timers on them to make it easier to know when time’s up. One of the biggest benefits of the use of SAD lamps to treat seasonal depression is that they are relatively affordable. SAD lamps can be purchased from many online retailers, and a prescription is not need. There are no dangerous side effects associated with using the SAD lamp, and these lamps can reduce the need for prescription antidepressants.

You can get one as cheap as $50.00 or you can buy one that cost as much as $150.00. Another alternative for people with Seasonal Affective Disorder is a full-spectrum sun lamp. These smaller light boxes are slightly more affordable, but have not been found to be as effective as SAD lamps. 


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