Light Therapy for Seasonal Affective Disorder
How is winter treating you? Many Canadians are not loving the dark mornings and early sunsets. For some, winter is a pain but it’s tolerable. For others, the season can really bring them down and they can’t seem to shake their winter blues.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a feeling of depression that happens consistently during a particular season. It can happy during any season, but winter-SAD seems to be the most common. These changes in mood are believed to be triggered by changes in sunlight during the season. This change in light affects your internal clock as well as some of the chemicals in your brain that regulate your mood.
SAD can make you feel depressed, change your appetite, interfere with your sleep, lower your energy and just slow you down in general.
Light therapy is considered a core treatment strategy for SAD. It helps to combat some of the negative changes that happen in some people in response to changes in the season. It’s considered a safe therapy but it’s always important to speak to a healthcare provider before starting any new treatment.
Some risks involved with light therapy are: irritation to the eyes, interactions with certain health conditions (eye disorders, lupus, skin conditions etc.), and interactions with some medications and supplements.
Many public libraries offer light therapy lamps so be sure to contact your local library about this service. Some people purchase their own light therapy lamps. As there does not seem to be strong regulation of these lamps, make sure you are using the safest and most evidence-based lamps available. The Centre for Environmental Therapeutics lists some requirements to look for in a light therapy lamp here: https://cet.org/light-box-selection-criteria/
There are many natural options for managing mood whether your mood is affected by the season or not. Be sure to seek out the help and the resources you need to feel good all year long.
Dr. Samantha Dass is currently a naturopathic doctor working at Holland Landing Health Centre in East Gwillimbury, Ontario, which services Holland Landing, Newmarket, Aurora, Keswick and Bradford areas. If you are interested in naturopathic services please contact Holland Landing Health Centre at 905-853-7900 or via e-mail at [email protected]