Seasonal Affective Disorder Lamp turns Night into Day
Seasonal affective disorder lamp is a special lamp used in light therapy to treat SAD symptoms. Light therapy is the first line treatment for SAD and has proven to be effective. SAD, a mild depression syndrome is usually experienced during winter months. People suffering from SAD show depressive behavior like continued sadness, lethargy, loss of energy, fluctuating mood etc. Light therapy on its own is extremely successful, however; doctors advise a combination of SAD treatments that aid in faster recovery. Apart from light therapy, antidepressants medication, cognitive behavioral therapy and psychotherapy are effectual treatments.
What does seasonal affective disorder lamp do?
The light therapy lamps are also called “phototherapy boxes”, light therapy boxes” or light boxes. The purpose of the lamp is to mimic sunlight (natural light) during the day. Most light boxes emit about 10,000 lux compared to a regular incandescent bulb that produces 250 to 700 lux of light. 10,000 lux of natural light is produced daily during a cycle of one complete day.
According to light therapy, phototherapy boxes should be placed at a distance of 12 to 14 inches and used daily for 30 minutes to an hour, early morning and just after sunset. This provides cues to the brain for manufacturing a brain chemical called serotonin that regulates the body circadian cycle. Circadian cycle is a body clock that regulates our mood and sleep-wake cycle. Hence, when proper levels of serotonin are produced the body cycle is balanced preventing development of SAD.
Choosing a seasonal affective disorder lamp
Light boxes are available in different sizes and shapes.
• Ultra high-powered lamps
• Medium to low powered lamps
• Compact lamp
• Desktop models
• Seasonal affective disorder lamp visors
• Designer lamps
• Combination light boxes
Although research suggests lamp producing 10,000 lux is beneficial, there are lamps available in the market that generates low power of lights. The Food and Drug Administration do not approve light boxes but several studies indicate its efficiency in treating SAD. Hence, it is important to take medical advice as to which type of lamp is best suited for you. While choosing a lamp check the following apart from price (approx $100-$500, May or may not be covered under insurance) of the lamp.
1) Is light box particularly manufactured for the treatment of SAD:
Sometimes light box made for treating skin disorders is sold as SAD lamp. This lamp is inefficient in treating SAD as most of these lamps emit ultra violet rays that could harm the eyes. Several SAD lamps will produce UV rays therefore, it is important to buy the one that emits minimum amount of UV rays.
2) Brightness of seasonal affective disorder lamp:
Distance while sitting in front of the lamp and brightness of the lamp plays an important role in proper treatment of SAD. Lamp with higher intensity requires sitting for less hours and proves more effective. However, people already suffering from eye problems or sub syndromal SAD (mild SAD) do not need high intensity boxes.
3) Color of the light being emitted:
Most light boxes emit white light as regular incandescent or fluorescent light emits. Some models emit blue light that is as effective but may pose a higher risk of damage to the eyes through prolonged usage.
4) Light boxes stimulating sunrise:
These are the best type of boxes to buy as they have special setting that automatically switches on the lamp with low intensity early in the morning at a time set by the person even though person is sleeping. Slowly it begins to become brighter as the day dawns upon imitating full 10,000 lux of light.
Seasonal affective disorder lamp is easily available at hardware or local medical stores. It is imperative to purchase the lamp and follow instructions listed on the package under proper guidance of the chemist or through prescription from the physician.