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SAD - Seasonal Affective Disorder Light Treatment

Updated on September 11, 2014
NatureBright SunTouch Plus Light and Ion Therapy Lamp (package may vary)
NatureBright SunTouch Plus Light and Ion Therapy Lamp (package may vary)

One of the most popular SAD light boxes with an average review rating of 4 1/2 stars from 152 reviewers at the time of writing. The Sun Touch Plus emits energizing, healing rays, using 10,000-lux Sky Effect light while simultaneously releasing streams of negative ions. It creates the same fresh air you feel by a waterfall or from an ocean breeze.

 

What is SAD

First of all, do you actually know what SAD (seasonal affective disorder), the winter blues or winter depression is?

It is actually a mood disorder that is brought about through a lack of exposure to sunlight most commonly experienced in the winter months when the days draw shorter and there is less opportunity for exposure to natural daylight or sunshine. The affect on people who suffer from the disorder is that most typically through the winter months they can slip into a depressive state. The symptoms of SAD are usually as follows:-

  • difficulty waking in the morning
  • unable to concentrate on tasks
  • shying away from people by avoiding family, friends and social activities
  • feeling pessimistic all the time
  • not enjoying life
  • a general feeling of hopelessness

What many people may not be aware of is that there is a reverse affect that can be experienced during the summer. Sufferers of SAD in the winter months may feel bouts of anxiety during the summer months as a result of heightened mood changes when exposed to more of the natural light and sunshine that is available during the summer months.

So you can conclude that SAD is not just limited to feeling the winter blues it actually means that your mood is affected by the seasons but in subtly different ways. So even in summer it pays to be aware of the SAD symptoms and to understand that just because it is summer it does not mean you definitely won't be feeling any affects.

Diagnosing SAD, You May Not Be Suffering with SAD - Everyone gets the Winter Blues a Little

Verilux HappyLight Deluxe 10,000 LUX Sunshine Simulator
Verilux HappyLight Deluxe 10,000 LUX Sunshine Simulator

Although our lives, health and well-being are dependent upon the sun, most of us do not get enough sunshine every day. Bright light is used for alleviating symptoms associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), jet lag, shift work fatigue, seasonal change and insomnia.

 

Everyone suffers to an extent with the winter blues when you live in countries that actually experience the different seasons and large changes in daylight hours, not everywhere does of course. It is those countries that reside in the Northern hemisphere, particularly the higher latitudes that see the large light changes between summer and winter that are most susceptible to this type of problem. This is further compounded by the fact that many people now work indoors and can drive both to and from work in the dark having spent the whole day under artificial lighting.

So most people are likely to feel a little depressed during the winter. Bad weather, cold conditions, rain and dreary days are bound to make the most upbeat persons feel a little down. But that does not mean everyone is suffering from SAD, most people do not, they are just experiencing a normal reaction to difficult conditions and having to deal with those conditions.

Depending on your preferences your mood can be turned by lighting a nice open fire to get cosy by or perhaps taking a day out to get up on the mountains for a bit of skiing. Whatever it is that makes you feel better.

For real sufferers of SAD however, a quick fix of what you fancy is unlikely to make any difference and you will need to seek out effective treatments for the condition and specifically one that works for you.

There are of course other states of depression that can exist that may be totally unrelated to SAD, so it is important to understand that the symptoms of SAD do tend to follow a recognised and established pattern that is related to the time of year. Other than the potential mini roller coaster that can occur in the summer, SAD induced depression is most likely to occur between October and May but will be at its worst during December through to February. Anyone falling outside this pattern would be well advised to seek the help of a qualified doctor so that other types of depression can be ruled out, or indeed if you want confirmation that you are suffering from SAD.

Another way to find out if you are likely to be suffering from SAD is to take this quick test for SAD Seasonal Affective Disorder At least then you will have an idea if a trip to the doctor is required.

Taking drugs used to be the favourite prescribed method of treating SAD but as the condition has become better understood the favourite therapy that is now undertaken is to simply replace those lost natural daylight exposures with equipment that can simulate natural light.

Lack of daylight increases the level of melatonin that the body produces, this is the hormone that is responsible for ensuring we get enough sleep at night, and reduces the amount of serotonin in your body. It is the reduction of serotonin that is believed to be the cause of the depressive feelings that ensue and the increase in melatonin that brings on the feeling of being drowsy and wanting to sleep.

This hormonal imbalance brought about by lack of daylight can be reversed by fooling your body into believing that it has been exposed to sufficient daylight hours by using a light box for SAD treatment therapy.

Before you decide what light box option you need, it is worth stopping and thinking about how and where you want to use the light box and of course how much time you need to spend being exposed to the light boxes for an effective reversal of the condition. Some people will require more exposure time than others to combat SAD and of course you need to make it a consistent and routine procedure that you follow each day for it to be most effective.

So stopping and thinking about your requirements before committing to a purchase of an inappropriate product will save you money and ensure that you start receiving effective treatment more quickly.

Bright Light Therapy Box - Alaska Northern Lights- North Star 10,000
Bright Light Therapy Box - Alaska Northern Lights- North Star 10,000

The North Star 10,000 is more than just a desk lamp. It is a proven light therapy aid in combating the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder, seasonal depression and other mood disorders: -10,000 lux at 24" -Lifetime Warranty to original owner.

 

SAD Light Boxes and Treatment Options - Seasonal Affective Disorder Light Treatment

If you are sensitive to lights, have pre-existing medical conditions such as epilepsy or depression or are unsure in any way about your condition it would be a good idea to consult with a doctor before purchasing any of these products. Better to be safe than sorry and to get a recommendation from a qualified medical practitioner before undertaking any treatment.

The products listed here are considered safe for use under normal circumstances and you can check the detailed descriptions for any of these products when you visit the suppliers site.

Day-Light Classic 10,000 LUX Bright Light Therapy Lamp
Day-Light Classic 10,000 LUX Bright Light Therapy Lamp

This is another very popular product with an average 4 1/2 stars from 133 reviewers at the time of writing. Day-Lights are specially designed bright light therapy lamps recommended by doctors as the first line treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), or the winter blues.

 

10 Things You Need to Know About Sleep - BBC UK TV program telling you how to get a good nights sleep

The second video discusses the power of daylight and how using a daylight lamp can wake you up increase your awareness and prepare you for a day in the office. Particularly important for morning TV presenters that typically have to get up around 4.00a.m.

How to Get a Good Nights Sleep

Philips Hf3470 Wake-up Light,  White
Philips Hf3470 Wake-up Light, White

The wake-up light wakes you up in a natural way, by light that increases gradually. from now on, waking up will be a pleasant experience. it makes use of a halogen lamp to wake you gently. This is not a treatment for SAD however, refer to the products above for treating SAD

 

What is SAD and How to Deal With It

The Blue Day Book - A Lesson in Cheering Yourself Up

Ten years after its first printing, Bradley Trevor Greive's global best-seller The Blue Day Book has become a modern classic and is still bringing smiles to readers around the world.

The Blue Day Book: A Lesson in Cheering Yourself Up
The Blue Day Book: A Lesson in Cheering Yourself Up

This special edition features stunning new endpapers illustrated by the author, hand-colored enhancements to the delightful black-and-white photography, and a new foreword to the text. Still included, of course, are the original, warm, supportive messages, humorous insights, and hilarious animal images guaranteed to raise the spirits of anyone feeling down and blue.

 

Additional Resources for Sufferers of SAD

There are many different types of treatment available for SAD (seasonal affective disorder) so it would be good to share with others what has worked for you.

Have you managed to combat SAD - Share your SAD treatments with others

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    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Lanley 6 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      I think I suffer somewhat from this. I live in a place that is gloomy much of the winter. When the sun does peek out, I make a point to walk outdoors in it. That exposure really helps.

    • profile image

      Weblady 6 years ago

      Fortunately I have never suffered from this condition, I do have the odd sleepless night though and those videos on how to get to sleep where really interesting.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 6 years ago from Canada

      I have never suffered from sad but I know many who do.

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 6 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      learned a new subject from your lens. fortunately i am living in south india where no big day time changes. thanks for info.

    • blogvicar lm profile image

      blogvicar lm 5 years ago

      Yes I think summer sufferers are less likely than winter sufferers although I agree it can happen. For sure the countries where people are worst affected are those such as the Scandinavian countries that have far less light in the winter; Scotland comes in that category as well. Interesting lens.

    • Iain84 profile image

      Iain84 5 years ago

      Great lens - I put together a similar one recently to help one of my friends who has been suffering with SAD for a while.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Confirmed night owl that I am, I try to get up a little earlier and make sure I get a little time outside in the sunshine. This winter I have a wonderful studio which has windows on two sides, allowing me to get a lot of the sun. I also buy natural sunlight lamps and lightbulbs which are better for your eyes, and for my artwork - and they do seem to help with the SAD as well. I have a couple of greeting cards for SAD sufferers in my shop at Zazzle: http://zazzle.com/foovay* to send to friends and family who suffer

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

      Hope the New Year brings you the very best of all that one might wish for.

    • profile image

      jenny-archer-9 4 years ago

      Just grab any 10 mins of sunshine you can during Autumn/Winter,older people,especially need the vitamin D to combat Brittle Bone disorders.

    • Squidpress profile image

      Squidpress 4 years ago

      fyi, the link to the test is broken

    • BrianRS profile image
      Author

      Brian Stephens 4 years ago from France

      @Squidpress: Thanks for that, I have fixed it now.

    • Travel Shepherd profile image

      Michael Shepherd 4 years ago from Ennis, Co. Clare, Ireland

      Excellent lens. My wife and I have been trying to determine where on the continuum between blue days and SAD she lies. This will help. Thanks.

    • BrianRS profile image
      Author

      Brian Stephens 4 years ago from France

      @Travel Shepherd: Many thanks and you are very welcome, for many people it is such a simple fix. Fortunately, as you will know from your travels, living in sunny climes usually means you have less of a problem.

    • profile image

      jenny-archer-9 4 years ago

      UK winters are enough to cause a whole nation to be SADS sufferers...sometimes summers are not much better just longer days to absorb the grey>

    • BrianRS profile image
      Author

      Brian Stephens 4 years ago from France

      @jenny-archer-9: That's partly why we now live in the South of France, although we are going back to the UK for a visit in December/January. The worst time of year for SAD :-)

    • MEDerby profile image

      MEDerby 4 years ago

      I live in the Yukon. Right now the sun rises around 10 in the morning and sets around 3 in the afternoon. My work takes me to communities where the sun does not rise at all till January. I make sure I travel to somewhere warm and sunny at least once during the winter and remember that summer is coming when it is light almost 24 hours a day.

    • BrianRS profile image
      Author

      Brian Stephens 4 years ago from France

      @MEDerby: That's a pretty short winter day, so a holiday in the sun is a good idea. I worked in the Arctic circle once when it was 24 hours daylight, a very odd experience :-)

    • MBradley McCauley profile image

      MBradley McCauley 4 years ago

      Learning that my Vitamin D levels were so low I had to take prescription medicine. I now try to get sunshine every day....but it's kinda cold here in TN, This lens is very needed right now. Will share the link with some people I know who seem a bit depressed. Thanks for the good info.

    • Richard1988 profile image

      Richard 3 years ago from Hampshire - England

      Interesting read with lots of nice facts, great lens. As someone living in the U.K am well acquainted to the winter blues.

    • BrianRS profile image
      Author

      Brian Stephens 3 years ago from France

      @Richard1988: Hi Richard, yes easy to get SAD in the UK, I used to live there as well but now I live in the South of France, so it is less of a problem. Thanks for the visit.

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