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We know the many benefits to our well-being of getting natural sunlight (with SPF on, of course), so it makes sense that an absence of that would negatively impact us. One result can be Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is a form of depression relating to changes in the season.
People affected by SAD generally see a decline in mood and an increase in depressive symptoms in the autumn and winter months, with an easing in their symptoms towards the spring and summer months, explains Veronica West, a psychologist at online mental health platform Lysn.
“Important to note is that SAD isn’t just ‘feeling down’ or unmotivated during the autumn and winter months,” she says. “Instead, it presents very much like other forms of depression, just with a clearer seasonal pattern.”
So, if you suspect you’re suffering from SAD, how can you treat it? While we’ve outlined a few psychologist-suggested ways to treat SAD here, we’re delving into one specific treatment here: light therapy, which can be used in addition to other treatments like psychotherapy and medication use.
“Research suggests that light therapy can stimulate chemicals in the brain responsible for improved mood and sleep,” says West. “Specifically, developed light boxes or lamps can be utilised for light therapy in the home.”
But how do you know which lamp will help treat SAD? West says it’s important you check that it’s designed specifically for light therapy, which will mean that it’s UV-free, filtering out the ultraviolet light that, with continued exposure, can damage your eyes and skin.
“The light should also be of a higher light intensity, and it is often recommended that up towards 10,000 lux is suitable for use in light therapy,” West says.
“It’s important, however, to note that other forms of support and treatment may be necessary or preferred in treating SAD. It’s always a good idea to discuss specific treatment needs and recommendations for you with your GP or mental health professional before starting new forms of treatment.”
Scroll down to see some options for lamps that treat SAD.