In the 1980’s it was discovered that people in the northern hemisphere where showing signs of depression especially during the long winter months. They also discovered that these feelings of depression slowly disappeared as the weather started to get better and the summer months began.
To begin with, light therapy is was one of the solutions to the said SAD patients or people experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder. It was said that the effects of slight exposure was similar to the effects of taking anti depressants which meant that the light made the patients happier and lifter feeling of depression.
SAD is a form of depression, which is experienced by 4-6% of the population wherein women are said to experience SAD four times more than men. Common symptoms include lethargy and feelings of sluggishness.
SAD light or the use of bright light therapy is one of the cures to alleviate SAD. During this treatment a patient will spend a minimum of 10 minutes facing a bright light therapy lamp. This is usually done during the winter when people are experiencing it the most. Some would even continue the treatment up until springtime arrives.
SAD light therapy works to release the hormone serotonin from the brain. This hormone helps make a person more energetic, alert, and active.
Nowadays this light therapy is not use solely for the purpose of treating SAD patients but in treating other patients such as those experiencing difficulty in sleeping and is also used to combat Jetlag. Some companies have even installed bright light therapy lamps to their offices for employees on night shift duties to keep them awake all through the night.
Are there side effects to light therapy?
Patients undergoing light therapy should also be careful since like some treatments, there may be unwanted side effects. Some side effects of SAD include insomnia, fatigue, headache, and irritability. So if you start to experience these side effects than it may be better to find another treatment besides the SAD light therapy treatment.
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Light Therapy: Topic Overview
Light Therapy for “Winter Blues”
Mayo Clinic Website
Mayo Clinic Staff
Light Up the Blues: Light Therapy for SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)
Melissa Stoppler, M.D., Barbara K. Hecht, Ph.D.