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Light Therapy For Depression Relief

If you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), or other forms of depression, light box therapy could be the thing to drive away those dark clouds of despair.  


Light Therapy For Depression Relief
Light Therapy For Depression Relief

Image Credit: Pixabay


What The Heck Is
Light Therapy Anyway?

Ever noticed how much better you feel after soaking up some sunshine?  Well, that's the premise behind light therapy.   

During light therapy, a.k.a. phototherapy, you're exposed to a form of artificial light that mimics natural sunlight.

Here's how it works.

-All you do is sit in front of a light box for about 30 minutes every day during the time of year when daylight hours are reduced, usually from early fall to spring.  

-You can do anything during your 30 minute light therapy session. I suggest journaling or reading something inspirational and uplifting. 

-Light therapy boxes are best used in the morning upon waking. 

-Keep the box at least 2 feet away from you.

-Keep your eyes open, but do not look directly into the light box.

With light therapy, you may see relief within a few days, but you might have to wait as long as two weeks or longer to see symptom relief. 

The cost?

I've seen light therapy boxes range in price from $20 to as much as $300.

Does it Work? Where's the proof?

Exposure to natural light causes a chemical chance in the brain that boosts mood.  Light therapy mimics natural sunlight and so the mood-boosting benefits are the same.

This study shows how light box therapy improves mood in study participants with depression

There were also improvements with participants who received both light box therapy and 20mg of the anti-depressant medication, Fluoxetine.

What To Look For When Choosing Your Light Box

Light boxes come in various sizes, shapes and give off different intensities of light.  The stronger the light, the shorter the time you might have to sit in front of the box. 

Do not use ultraviolet light, full-spectrum light, heat lamps, or tanning lamps for light therapy.

So how much light do you need?

The light box you choose should provide exposure of up to  10,000 lux of light.

Lux is a standard measurement of light intensity. 10,000 lux is the amount of light you'd get from being outside on a bright sunny day.    

Because UV light is harmful to the eyes, your box should also emit as little UV light as possible. 


Possible Side Effects of Using Light Therapy
For Depression Relief 

I'd be doing you a disservice if I didn't clue you into the possible side effects of using light therapy. These side effects only occur in a small percentage of people who use light box therapy.

•Eyestrain or visual disturbances

It's a good idea to speak with talk with your eye doctor if you have eye problems (now or in the past) like glaucoma, cataracts or diabetes related eye damage.

•Headaches

• Agitation or feeling "wired"

• Nausea

• Sweating

Don't worry. These side effects can be reduced by decreasing light box usage.



A Word on Bipolar Depression and Light Box Therapy...

Although light box therapy is an effective treatment option, there are things to consider if you're suffering from bipolar disorder.

Overusing the light box can lead to manic symptoms. 

Please speak with your health care provider before starting light box therapy to manage bipolar depression.  

Ok, so this may sound scary if you happen to suffer from bipolar disorder, but as it turns out...


There's an alternative to light box therapy that doesn't require you to sit in front of a light box for 30 minutes, and you can do it while you sleep. 

It's called a dawn simulation. 

Is a Dawn Simulator An Effective
Alternative to Light Box Therapy ?

Ok,  now what the heck is a dawn simulator anyway? 

It sounds like some sort of advanced, virtual reality technology, doesn't it? 

A dawn simulator is a gadget that mimics dawn by gradually increasing your bedside lamp's intensity of light. 

Dawn simulation tricks your brain into believing it is the early hours of dawn even when it is still dark outside. 

Much like light therapy, dawn simulation helps to stimulate those happy chemicals in your brain.  

All of this happens while you're asleep.

Unlike light box therapy, there's no link between hypomania and dawn simulation.

Will a dawn simulator work for you?

I must say that dawn simulation doesn't work for everyone. 

If you don't see any improvement after a few days, do yourself a favor and try it for a full month to see if it really works.

Sometimes relief takes a while. 

How much does one of these handy gadgets cost anyway?

I've seen dawn simulators range in price from $20 to as much as $200.

What Else Is Light Therapy Good For?

In addition to Seasonal Affective Disorder, as well as other types of depression, light therapy is also used to treat:

-Jet lag

-Obsessive-compulsive disorders

-Parkinson’s disease

-Dementia

-Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Light therapy is also used to treat insomnia because it helps to balance the circadian rhythm, your body's sleep-wake cycle.


I hope this article helps you on your journey to better mental health!

Brighter skies are ahead,




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>Light Therapy For Depression Relief



Week 1

This first installment focuses on the link between exercise, diet and good mental health.

Week 2

I'll talk about the importance of using relaxation techniques to lift your mood and calm your nerves, which in turn improves mental health. 

Week 3

This week all about using self-esteem to improve mental health and overall well-being. 

Week 4

This final week presents ways to reduce social media usage. Studies show that over consumption of social media contributes to anxiety and depression.

Click here to start this free e-course!




Week 1

This first installment focuses on the link between exercise, diet and good mental health.

Week 2

I'll talk about the importance of using relaxation techniques to lift your mood and calm your nerves, which in turn improves mental health. 

Week 3

This week all about using self-esteem to improve mental health and overall well-being. 

Week 4

This final week presents ways to reduce social media usage. Studies show that over consumption of social media contributes to anxiety and depression.

Click here to start this free e-course!