SAD lights are a type of light box used specifically in the treatment of seasonal affective disorder. This treatment is known as light therapy or phototherapy and has proven to be highly effective in treating the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder, with some patients recovering as quickly as a few days after treatment has begun. Of course, for some it takes longer and patients are often advised to continue treatment until spring, when they can get out in the sun, but the conclusion is that phototherapy works.
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Why Do SAD Lights Work as a Therapy for Depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Some experts believe that there is a strong link between the hormone melatonin and seasonal depression. Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland, which is located in the brain. Its role is to regulate a person’s sleep and wake cycles. Thus, the higher the level of this hormone in your body, the sleepier you will get. Generally, the body produces more melatonin in the evening so that levels increase and remain high overnight. Then, in the early morning, levels drop allowing you to wake.
Light affects the quantity of melatonin the nervous system secretes s and since the days are shorter in winter, there’s a good chance that the body will produce melatonin either earlier or later in the day that normal. This can cause seasonal affective disorder.
SAD lights have been shown to help reduce the amount of melatonin being secreted as well as increasing the amount of serotonin present in the brain, which means they work like antidepressants. And now experts believe that light therapy and SAD lights might actually work for treating other issues, including eating disorders, sleep problems and clinical depression not caused or related to SAD. It has been found that patients who suffer from depression but don’t have seasonal affective disorder exhibit an improved mood and greater energy levels when they are exposed to SAD lights along with taking their antidepressant medication.
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Not All SAD Lights Are Equal
If you believe you suffer from SAD because you’ve been feeling depressed, you might be tempted to start light therapy without consulting your doctor. While anyone can benefit from phototherapy since it elevates mood and increases energy levels and there are no side-effects, it’s still important that you confer with a medical professional.
Firstly, it’s important to get your condition diagnosed accurately because if you do suffer from seasonal affective disorder, a doctor should monitor your treatment as it might be necessary for you to also take medication along with light therapy.
Furthermore, a doctor will be able to recommend the best SAD lights for you to purchase. The fact is that you can’t use just any old light. SAD lights are designed specifically for light therapy and emit a much higher degree of light than standard lamps. Since they can cost quite a bit, you want to make sure you are getting a unit that will deliver results.
So, before you try self-treatment, ensure you speak to your doctor because SAD is a serious problem and should be diagnosed correctly and your treatment monitored.
However, if you only suffer from mild depression or just a general state of being down, you should still consider SAD lights as phototherapy really does work.
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