I believe most people reading this have a good sense of what Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is and how it can wreak havoc on many of us this time of the year.
For those unfamiliar, wikipedia defines SAD as “a mood disorder subset in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year exhibit depressive symptoms at the same time each year, most commonly in winter.”
Dr. Norman E. Rosenthal, author of Winter Blues, is the world-renowned researcher and psychiatrist who led the team that first described Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and pioneered light therapy to treat it. Dr. Rosenthal has found that about 1 in 20 people in the U.S. has SAD.
Turns out some people need more light than others. For those, the darker and shorter days adversely affects mood and behavior. One can better manage SAD through exercise, stress reduction and trying light therapy. Light therapy can help one maintain healthy sleeping and eating habits that guide the body through it’s natural rhythms.
The Mayo Clinic lists the following as symptoms specific to winter-onset SAD.
- Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
- Weight gain
Other symptoms can include:
- Having problems with sleeping
- Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
- Feeling sluggish or agitated
- Having difficulty concentrating
- Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
- Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline — 800-273-8255)
Treatment options for SAD include light therapy, medications and psychotherapy.
Why Does SAD Occur
It is believed that a change in photoperiod, which is the number of daylight hours, is at the root of SAD. According to Kelly Rohan, a professor of psychological science at the University of Vermont, photoperiod is believed to have more of an influence on mood than the overcast skies we see in the northwest, or the colder temperatures. Fewer hours of light is believed to affect the circadian clocks of people with SAD, leaving them out of sync with their natural rhythms. Light therapy (best delivered first thing in the morning) is believed to kick those circadian rhythms back into a normal cycle.
Things to consider in a lamp:
- Brightness of at least 10,000 lux
- UV-blocking technology
- Surface area of lamp
Here are five light therapy lamps that may help you this winter.
Verilux HappyLight Full-Size UV-Free Therapy LampVerilux HappyLight Full-Size UV-Free Therapy Lamp
4.6 / 5 Stars
TaoTronics Light Therapy LampTaoTronics Light Therapy Lamp
4.9 / 5 Stars
Aura® Day Light Therapy LampAura® Day Light Therapy Lamp
4.4 / 5 Stars
Verilux HappyLight TouchVerilux HappyLight Touch
4.7 / 5 Stars
Miroco Light Therapy LampMiroco Light Therapy Lamp
4.8 / 5 Stars
References: 'Tis The Season: Coping With SAD, Or Seasonal Affective Disorder / NPR The Double Whammy of Seasonal Affective Disorder in a Season of Covid / NY Times Light therapy lamps can ease seasonal depression / Washington Post Pathogenesis and management of seasonal affective disorder The Best Light Therapy Lamp / Wirecutter 10 Top-Rated Light Therapy Boxes To Use While You're Stuck Inside All Day / Health.com 5 Lamps to Help You Feel Like You’re at the Beach All Winter Long / The Cut