There are a number of resources that are available regarding the expanding applications of Bright Light Therapy also known as phototherapy. If you experience lower energy levels, disrupted sleep, fatigue, reduced libido, or irritability as fall and winter approach, you may be suffering from Winter Blues. Winter Blues is a type of depression. Countless clinical trials have shown the benefit of bright light therapy in combating Winter Blues symptoms.
There are different types of therapeutic lights available on the market today, red light, blue light, green light, and UVB lights. These lights use different wavelengths for different applications. For Winter Blues, it is recommended to use Bright Light Therapy. Bright Light Therapy, abbreviated as BLT, most often uses a light box of white light that gives 10,000 Lux at the user’s eye level. It is important to buy a large light box from a reputable company. Small lamps sit far from the eyes and will not provide the patient with the required level of light to enhance mood.
An article from the NY Times discusses the causes of SAD, how long it lasts, and what you can do about it.
“While this can vary from person to person, SAD symptoms can linger for quite a while — up to five months for some.” said Dr. Lily Yan, an associate professor of psychology at Michigan State University. “Most people who have winter SAD will begin noticing symptoms between October and November, Dr. Rohan said. But if you live in parts of the country where people are more susceptible, you may notice them earlier in the fall. “
Why is it so important to get a large light? Learn more about light therapy and selection criteria. The light should be elevated and shine down from above. A 10,000 Lux light that doesn’t state a 10,000 Lux distance may not be usable for light therapy.
“Substantial research and clinical experience indicate that exposure to bright light at 10,000 lux for 7 days per week for 30 minutes before 8 a.m. results in substantial improvement in SAD and subsyndromal SAD for most patients. An individual seeking a light treatment device faces a significant issue: many devices on the market are too dim and too small to be useful treatment options.”
CET is an independent non-profit organization that endorses our BoxElite OS. The Center is made up of a multidisciplinary team of eminent researchers and clinicians including experts in mental health. A great resource for up to date information of SAD and light therapy research. Here is the latest from them on bright light therapy for perinatal depression.
“…chronotherapy may be vital for supplementing pregnancy-related mental health treatment. This is an especially important consideration given that several candidate medications cannot be used by women while pregnant.”
“Daily exposure to bright white light at midday significantly decreased symptoms of depression and increased functioning in people with bipolar disorder, a recent Northwestern Medicine study found.”
“My hope is that we can see light therapy lamps in libraries across the country!” – Northern Light Technologies is proud to be a part of this great project.
“We don’t usually get response rates in the range of 75 per cent in any depression trials,” said Levitt, chief of Sunnybrook’s brain sciences program. “So the magnitude of the difference was surprising to us. Adding light therapy to the antidepressant treatment also reduced patients’ symptoms much more quickly, he said.”
Who hasn’t felt like staying in bed and hibernating in the depths of winter? If it’s an occasional feeling, no problem, but if it’s chronic, you could have the Winter Blues.
“First and foremost it’s important to get a diagnosis from your physician or health care provider, and then you have two options and both have been validated scientifically. Currently light therapy is the primary treatment for Winter Blues but an alternative is using an antidepressant as well,” explains Iris Krawchenko , of Dell Pharmacy. She adds that antidepressants must be taken all year long, while light therapy is only used seasonally.
Women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with Winter Blues. Symptoms often begin when a woman is in her 20s and get progressively worse. Candidates for light therapy will lack energy, decrease their activity level, crave carbs and therefore gain weight. They’ll have trouble getting up in the morning and experience difficulties socially, wanting to withdraw from activities, becoming irritable and possibly suffering from severe anxiety attacks and heart palpitations. Symptoms must be experienced for two consecutive winters to fit the Winter Blues profile.
Dell Pharmacy carries a range of light boxes that simulate sunlight. For relief from symptoms, Winter Blues sufferers receive a daily dose of artificial sunlight by sitting in front of the box for 30 minutes a day, preferably before 8 a.m. The duration of the exposure and the distance between the patient and the appliance is determined by a healthcare professional.
“We’ve been involved in light therapy for over 20 years. We do our research annually so we see what’s current, what has been studied, what has been validated and what is safe,” explains the pharmacist.
Light therapy boxes produce an extremely bright light that simulates sunlight at a level of 10,000 lux. Krawchenko stresses that when purchasing a light therapy box, be sure the light does not peek in the blue wave length. This quality of light has been linked to macular degeneration in the eyes.