Suffering from Seasonal Depression?

This blog reviews the best (and worst!) light therapy lamps and sun lamps for treating Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Review: NatureBright Sun Lamp Sun Touch Plus

The NatureBright Sun Touch Plus was the first light therapy lamp I ever owned.  I bought it after my psychotic episode.  Since the 'sode came about due to severe seasonal depression, my doctor pretty much ordered me to go home and buy one of these things.

It began to work right away.  UPS happened to deliver it early enough in the morning that I had time to plug it in and use it for half an hour before beginning my day.  After that single half hour, I already felt more "normal" than I had in months.

The NatureBright Sun Touch emits 10,000 lux of full spectrum light -- in other words, you're getting bright white light just like you get from the sun.  Not only is this necessary for effective light therapy, but this also makes it useful as a task lamp for art or crafts where you need true color rendering.

Depending on what you and your doctor decide, you can use this lamp either in the morning or the evening.  Many people find it helps to split their time -- by using it in the morning for half an hour, they start their day with more energy than they usually have in the winter.  Using it in the evening helps keep them from falling asleep too early, and it also maintains their mood even when it gets dark at 4:30 or 5 pm.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Best Therapy Lamps: How to Read Product Reviews

This may seem like a no-brainer, but when choosing a therapy lamp for Seasonal Affective Disorder, you can get a lot of information from product reviews. The trick, however, is to know how to interpret them. For instance, let's say a therapy lamp has an average review of 5 stars on Amazon. That makes it a great lamp, right? Well, maybe it is. But how many reviews are there? If there's only one or two reviews, that's not a lot of information to go on. On the other hand, if there are 397 reviews that average out to 4.5 stars, that tells you a lot. It tells you that nearly four hundred people used this lamp, and it worked so well for them that they made sure to review it. I've also found it useful to read the least-positive reviews for any product I'm considering. If there are a lot of reviews that say that the product only lasted a few weeks before breaking, that tells me that the product is pretty bad. If the worst reviews are more along the lines of "this lamp would have been fine but it was too big for my desk", that tells me something else. It tells me that the therapy light is probably a good one, but that I should look at the dimensions carefully before buying.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

How to Use a Light Therapy Lamp (hint: as your doctor first)

Light therapy lamps have many advantages over medication in treating seasonal affective disorder.  Unlike medication, light therapy has few side effects if any.  A bigger problem is that antidepressants can take several weeks to start working -- and when your depression is seasonal, that's several weeks you don't have!

Still, it's best if you consult your doctor before trying light therapy.  Your doctor can tell you if there are any reasons why you shouldn't use a sun lamp.  People with certain eye problems, for instance, cannot safely use bright lights.

If you have bipolar disorder, there's a good chance that your mood cycle is affected in part by the seasons.  However, you're also at higher risk for triggering a manic episode by using light therapy.  Folks with bipolar should consult their psychiatrist before using a light therapy lamp.

In rare cases, other people can become hypomanic or manic from light therapy.  If you start to feel anxious, over-energized, talking too much and too fast, and find yourself cleaning the house at 3 a.m., talk to your doctor immediately.

For most people, however, light therapy is likely to have no side effects at all.  Those that do experience side effects are usually bothered by sleep disturbances.  These can be prevented easily enough: start your therapy gradually, at half an hour a day, then go to 45 minutes, and then an hour.  If you have trouble sleeping after starting light therapy, move your therapy to an earlier time of day, or try shorter sessions.  As for trouble waking up in the morning, you probably have that already -- so make sure you do a therapy session when you wake up.  You'll find you have much more energy throughout the day.

Again, these are things you should discuss with your doctor before beginning light therapy.  Depending on your symptoms and their severity, your doctor may recommend shorter or longer sessions.  Your doctor may also recommend splitting your sessions between morning and afternoon.  It depends on your individual biology, so there's no single answer that will work for everyone.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Choosing a Light Therapy Lamp: The Most Important Thing

Choosing a light therapy device for SAD can be overwhelming.  There are a lot of products out there that claim to be therapeutic for seasonal depression.  There are sun lamps, blue lights, dawn simulators, and more.  How do you know which ones will help you?

Fortunately there's a single feature that's shared by the most effective light therapy devices: they all emit 10,000 lux.

What the heck is a "lux"?  It's a unit of light measurement.  And 10,000 lux is the amount of sunlight you receive when you're outside on a sunny summer afternoon.

Since the point of light therapy is to trick your body into thinking it isn't winter, you can see how important it is to simulate summer.  If your light therapy lamp emits 10,000 lux, it will treat your seasonal affective disorder.  You have chosen wisely.

Here are some SAD therapy lamps that emit 10,000 lux.

As you can see, you've got a lot of options in terms of price, size, and type.  Whether you want a small task lamp, a large desk lamp, or a floor lamp, you can get your 10,000 lux.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Welcome to Light Therapy Reviews

Seasonal depression, also called seasonal affective disorder or (very appropriately) SAD, is a condition that affects millions of people worldwide.  It's more than just the "winter blahs".  It's a serious illness that costs the world economy billions of dollars a year, to say nothing of the toll in human suffering.

The good news is that you can treat it -- and without drugs, too.  The answer is light therapy.  As someone who suffers from severe seasonal depression, I've tried all kinds of light therapy, sun lamps, and full-spectrum therapy lighting to treat my disorder.  This blog will serve to inform readers about light therapy, and review the products I have found to be the most helpful.