Light therapy for depression

Where you put the lightbox.

Where you put the lightbox.

I came across the idea of light therapy several years ago, but did not pay much attention to it until recently. The idea of light therapy is that you use a very powerful light in the morning to wake up. This is similar to how if you lived outside you would be woken up by the morning sun and go to sleep when the light fades. I mentioned in a post about a program called f.lux, that morning light tends to be blue or white, and evening light is red. During winter months the light in the morning tends to come up later or not at all, and as result the circadian rhythm is off kilter. This is basically the body’s alarm clock which is set by the timing of the sun rise and sun set. So if you did the light therapy at night time, you would in theory not be able to sleep until mid day the next day.

I have been using light therapy for the last few weeks to help with my depression. I have always had depression, and it has improved with cleaner eating. However with light therapy my mood is far more even, similar to generic anti-depressants but a lot less side effects. I do have emotions and not zombie like when I used anti-depressants. The only thing that sometimes happens is you get a minor headache but it goes away after about 5 minutes. The big thing is that there is a surge of energy after the light treatment which is similar to coffee but does not wear off until near 10 pm. I like to go to sleep around 11 pm so that’s quite good for me.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is when you get a seasonal depression due to the lack of sunlight. This helps relieve the overall haze you get during the fall and winter months. For me this makes work much easier to manage and have a more positive outlook. Depression itself isn’t only about emotion, but overall lethargy and drive to complete tasks. When your fully depressed, you just want to lie in your bed all day and sleep. And the more you sleep you oddly get more tired, its sort of a vicious cycle.

I place the light about 14” from left eye and a little in front of it so it strikes my right eye as well. It works even better if your slightly under the light to simulate how the sun hits the eye. However this isn’t always necessary. I do not look directly at the light, but ahead at my computer screen. The light appears in your peripheral vision, and can hurt at first. This feeling goes away after a few moment usually. The light has UV filters which protects the eye, but prevent it from making vitamin D. You need to supplement vitamin D especially in the fall and winter.

The brand of lightbox I use is the sunbox jr. It cost me about 179 which is a little more than average price for the a light box. However the build quality is excellent and I can see this light last me 10 years or more. The only thing that is a little strange is that you can move the light filter around easily. Its about 3 lbs as well and 14″ tall.


Any suggestions, comments or critiques?

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