Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Importance of Light

We have known for a number of years that light is very important for people suffering from SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, a type of depression common among people living in northern climates who have short amounts of daylight hours during the winter. Deprived of sunlight, these folks really start to feel depressed. Put them under a light box or full-spectrum light bulbs and they perk up enormously!

Now we are coming to understand that up to 50% of those suffering any type of depression are able to benefit significantly from this type of light therapy. Some studies have shown that for many people, light therapy can be as helpful as an antidepressant medication. Light therapy may even help those with Bipolar II Disorder depression. This is certainly something to try if one is depressed and he/she is not gaining relief by taking an anti-depressant medication or engaging in talk therapy. Even if they are benefiting from meds or counseling or both, light may be added for an extra boost.

As many of us cannot be out in the sun for enough time to really help depression (fair skin, concern about skin cancer, etc.), the light boxes and lamps with the right light bulbs are great. Some people buy one of the lamps and keep it on their desk at work. Others sit under the lamp while reading. Other people just bask in the glow of a light box – as if they were in a tanning bed!

If you are depressed, consider adding some light to your life. Couldn’t hurt, hey – and it may very well really help.
Just Google “Full Spectrum Lighting” to find a wide array of these gadgets. Some are expensive, but many are very reasonable in price. And let me know how this lights up your life!

Sandy Fournier, M.A., LMFT