Medically reviewed by Dr. Allison Pepple, Family Medicine Specialist
A Light Box Can Help
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that typically occurs each year during fall and winter. Use of a light box can offer relief.
Light boxes are designed to deliver a therapeutic dose of bright light to treat symptoms of SAD. There are many different types of light boxes. All light boxes for SAD treatment are designed do the same thing, but one may work better for you than another.
Dr. Pepple also recommends getting your Vitamin D levels checked. Vitamin D is often low in patients with anxiety and depression. Boosting your Vitamin D can help mood/energy/motivation as well; having a healthy level is also important for a healthy immune system.
Talk with your health care provider first
It's best to talk with your health care provider about choosing and using a light box. If you're experiencing both SAD and bipolar disorder, the advisability and timing of using a light box should be carefully reviewed with your health care provider. Increasing exposure too fast or using the light box for too long each time may induce manic symptoms if you have bipolar disorder.
If you have past or current eye problems such as glaucoma, cataracts or eye damage from diabetes, get advice from your eye specialist before starting light therapy.
Tips for Purchasing & Using a Light Box:
- A light box looks like a picture frame, but it is a bright LED light. It tells your brain to make more serotonin - one of the main hormones that helps with mood, energy, & motivation
- Purchase one online now, as prices will go up during the winter months (when you need it the most!)
- The light box sits off to the side while you do something else – don’t look directly at it
- 15 minutes/day for 1 week (to let your eyes adjust)
- 30 minutes/day after that until SUNNY in spring
Talk to your health care provider about light box options and recommendations, so you get one that's best suited to your needs.