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Self-Care

Light As Therapy Helps Many With Seasonal Affective Disorder


If it’s the dead of winter and you can’t shake the blues, you may be experiencing a form of depression called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), according to a study conducted by Mayo Clinic.

Light therapy improves symptoms for about three out of four people suffering from SAD, the report said. Light therapy involves spending a specific amount of time using a specially designed lamp each day; the light emitted is comparable to outdoor light just after sunrise or just before sunset, according to the report.

Your doctor can help you select the proper light box and instruct you in how much time to use the light each day; time frames range from 15 minutes to two hours, clinic researchers said.

Despite the disorder’s acronym, these seasonal bouts of depression may go beyond simply feeling sad, the report noted. Other symptoms often include loss of energy, anxiety, irritability, headache, increased sleep, diminished interest in sex, cravings for high carbohydrate foods, weight gain from overeating and lack of ability to concentrate, according to the findings.

Whether the symptoms are mild or severe, SAD is best handled with a doctor’s help, researchers said. In addition to light therapy, treatment may include medication, psychological therapy, stress reduction and relaxation techniques, they added.

Copyright 2003 Health Resources Publishing


© 2003 Health Resources Publishing