Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) light therapy
Winter can feel dark and dreary, and unless you're planning to jet off to the Bahamas for the season, there isn't a way out. Suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) during the winter months can be rough and if conventional treatments haven't helped you much, there is light at the end of the tunnel, quite literally. Red light therapy (RLT) is showing promise as an effective seasonal affective disorder treatment, potentially bringing relief to millions of sufferers across the UK and the globe.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?
As the weather gets colder and the days grow shorter, some people start to feel a change in their mood. They may feel tired, have trouble concentrating, and experience changes in their appetite. For some people, these feelings are more than just the “winter blues.” They may have a form of depression known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
SAD is a type of depression that occurs at the same time each year. It usually starts in Autumn or Winter and goes away during the Spring or Summer. SAD is more common in people who live in Northern latitudes, where there is less sunlight in winter. It’s also more commonly reported in women and young adults. In the UK, a study found that almost 35% of the UK population report a mood decrease from Autumn.
People with SAD may not have all the symptoms of major depression. But they typically have enough symptoms to interfere with their daily life. The most common symptom of SAD is feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two weeks straight. Other common symptoms include:
- Feeling sluggish or agitated
- Having trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Feeling hopeless, worthless, or guilty
- Having difficulty concentrating or remembering things
- Avoiding social activities
- Low productivity
How to Cure Seasonal Depression
There are a number of SAD treatment options for those afflicted by this debilitating disorder, so you needn’t suffer. SAD can be treated with antidepressant medications, light therapy, and psychotherapy.
1. Light Therapy
One of the most common treatments for SAD is light therapy, also called phototherapy, photobiomodulation or red light therapy. Light therapy involves sitting in front of a special light box that emits bright red light for 30 minutes to two hours every day. The Mayo Clinic recommends using the light therapy device with an hour of waking up for at least 20 to 30 minutes a day.
The light box is usually placed on a desk or table where you can work or read while you’re receiving treatment. Some people find that their symptoms improve after just a few days of red light therapy, but others may need to continue treatment for several weeks. A study found that some people reported an improvement in depression scores after just an hour of light therapy.
2. Antidepressant Medications
Antidepressant medications can also be effective in treating severe cases of SAD. These medications increase levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, which can help improve mood. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most commonly prescribed type of antidepressant for SAD. If medication is deemed necessary, your doctor will work with you to find the most suitable one.
Antidepressants can take between 4-6 weeks to kick in and start bringing relief, which is a long wait if you are in the throes of a very bad episode of SAD.
Oftentimes, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) can be beneficial to SAD sufferers. CBT is a type of psychotherapy that helps people identify and change negative thinking and behaviour patterns.
NLP is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on changing the way people think and communicate with themselves and others.
4. Combination of Treatments
Often a combination of SAD treatments is required for the best outcome. For example, if your doctor requires you to start medication, it can be beneficial for you to start red light therapy at home in order for you to find some quick relief while the medication takes effect. The Aduro LED Face Mask allows you to reap the benefits of red light therapy in the comfort of your own home.
Benefits of Light Therapy on SAD
Light therapy offers a number of benefits to those struggling with SAD. Red light therapy has been shown to be an effective seasonal affective disorder therapy. A number of studies have shown that red light therapy can help to improve mood, reduce symptoms of depression, and increase energy levels in people with SAD. Additionally, red light therapy can help to improve sleep quality in people with SAD.
Red light therapy works by exposing the person to bright light. The bright light helps to regulate the body’s natural circadian rhythm, which can be off balance in people with SAD. Additionally, red light can help boost levels of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that is linked to mood regulation.
Red light therapy takes the best components of sunlight, red and near-infrared while eliminating ultraviolet and delivers these to the body. This is extremely beneficial in winter months when our skin receives minimal amounts of natural sunlight.
How To Choose A Red Light Therapy Device To Treat SAD
When it comes to SAD and light therapy, there are a few things you need to consider before purchasing a device. Here are a few tips on how to choose a red light therapy device:
1. Figure out your budget. Red light therapy devices can vary in price, so it’s important to figure out how much you’re willing to spend before starting your search.
2. Consider the size of the device. If you plan on using your device at home, you’ll want to make sure it’s small enough to fit in your space. Some devices are designed for portable use and can be used in various positions and settings. Larger devices cover more area but are less portable so are better suited to a room where you go to administer your treatments.
3. Choose a device with adjustable settings. Many red light therapy devices come with adjustable settings, so you can tailor the amount of light exposure to your needs. This is especially important if you have sensitive skin or are just starting out with light therapy treatments.
4. Consider the warranty and return policy before making your purchase. Most reputable companies offer at least a one-year warranty on their devices. All LumiRed devices are covered with a 3-year warranty for your peace of mind.
If you need help choosing a red light therapy device to treat your seasonal affective disorder, please schedule a free call with one of our experts here.