During winter months, those with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) are shopping for one thing: the best light therapy lamps. Designed to help improve the changes in mood and behavior that come with the darker, colder months of fall and winter, these lamps are a great purchase for anyone struggling with SAD this time of year. But what is SAD, and how do these light therapy lamps work? Let's break it down.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD?
Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD for short, is a condition that causes people to experience mood changes in conjunction with the change of seasons. Most common in the fall and winter, SAD is much more than just the "winter blues." According to the American Psychiatric Association, SAD is linked to, "a biochemical imbalance in the brain prompted by shorter daylight hours and less sunlight in winter." As summer turns to fall and the days become shorter, this change can affect your circadian rhythm, or internal clock, leading to those off-kilter, and often sad, feelings. For many, SAD presents itself in symptoms like sadness, loss of interest, lethargy, and restlessness. But with a little light therapy and some mood boosting supplements, brighter days are on the horizon.
How do light therapy lamps work?
So, how do light therapy lamps actually work? Light therapy lamps work by emitting light that mimics the look and feel of natural sunlight. Typically done sitting down in front of one of these lamps for at least 20 to 30 minutes a day, light therapy is usually performed first thing in the morning to help get your day started off right. To get the most out of your lamp, it's important to make sure light is entering your eyes indirectly (do not stare at your lamp as this can damage your eyes), which is why it's common to see people sit in front of these lamps with their eyes closed during sessions. While light therapy is not an immediate cure for SAD, the American Psychiatric Association also notes that "most people see some improvements from light therapy within one or two weeks of beginning treatment."
Are light therapy lamps safe?
As a whole, light therapy is safe and one of the most recommended treatments for seasonal affective disorder. But while safe, it's still important to use these lamps under the guide of a physician, especially if you have lupus, bipolar disorder, or currently take any medications that increase your sensitivity to light. For those worried about UV damage, you can rest easy. Unlike other indoor light devices, like tanning beds, light therapy lamps use non-UV bulbs (usually at 10,000 LUX for the best results) that are completely safe for you and your body.
The Best Light Therapy Lamps for SAD
If you're experiencing symptoms of SAD, remember that your first step should be to seek out the help of a trained professional for a proper diagnosis as well as to ensure that there are no other medical conditions contributing to your symptoms. As always, health and happiness are the ultimate goals here. Ready to get your hands on one of these lamps and help kick seasonal affective disorder to the curb? Keep scrolling for FIRST's picks for the best light therapy lamps for SAD on the market today.
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