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Light Therapy: A Practical Treatment for Seasonal Depression

Winter weather got you down? There may be a good reason for that.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is thought to affect around 10 million Americans each year. It’s a form of depression that is triggered by low daylight exposure, which is why it tends to appear in fall, winter, and early spring months. Light exposure governs our circadian rhythm, and when we aren’t getting enough, it impacts our body’s production of melatonin and serotonin, natural substances that help regulate our sleep and mood.

Common symptoms include persistent fatigue, moodiness, lack of motivation or interest in activities you typically enjoy, and difficulty concentrating. You may also crave carbohydrates, leading to weight gain, and find that you’re sleeping more than usual.

Practical advice, like getting outside during the first morning’s light, isn’t exactly practical during the winter when warm sunshine isn’t easy to come by. Fortunately, there are some great devices that can help mimic sunlight and raise serotonin levels to relieve those mid-winter blues.

Light Therapy

Light Boxes are designed to mimic the full spectrum of light found in daylight, but many are portable enough to be used anywhere, anytime. By sitting in this bright white, full-spectrum light for 30 minutes during dawn each morning, it’s possible to experience an antidepressant effect within the first week of regular use.

According to Harvard Medical School¹, this form of light therapy is helpful not only for SAD, but also for perinatal depression and other forms of nonseasonal depression. Studies show light therapy can be as effective as medications or cognitive behavioral therapy in treating depressive symptoms in as much as 60% of patients.

Here are a few options we recommend for at-home light therapy treatments:

This lamp easily fits on your counter or nightstand, making it easy to sit close to its 10,000-lux lamp, which is the standard recommended amount of light for treating SAD. Its clean look and low price makes it an option where you don’t have to sacrifice form or function.

This powerful machine takes light therapy to the next level by incorporating red-light therapy and near-infrared technology, which protects the body’s cells from oxidative damage. The machine’s power and effectiveness is reflected in a higher price tag, but with premium features like touch-screen access and the option to link multiple lights, it’s a highly customizable option for the ultimate home light therapy experience.

Infrared Saunas

Infrared technology uses a broad light spectrum to stimulate cellular regeneration, offering relief for both mood and sleep disorders. Infrared light penetrates our body’s cells very efficiently, raising your body’s core temperature instead of just the air around you, and helping improve uptake of neurotransmitters like serotonin and melatonin while fighting inflammation.

Infrared saunas are particularly effective because the infrared light allows for a more gentle and effective heat than a typical sauna. This means you can comfortably spend more time basking in the warm, healing light inside - the perfect opportunity to slow down and turn inward.

If you’re looking for a treatment for depression or anxiety that feels like a spa day, this is it. Infrared saunas can also help the body with detoxification, weight loss, heart health, immunity, chronic pain, and a variety of skin conditions. They also offer incredible anti-aging benefits!

Have you tried an infrared sauna before? If not, now may be the time to give it a try. Ready to experience all of these benefits for yourself? At Vitality’s Mansfield office, we offer single-use and monthly package options for use of our Sunlighten Infrared Sauna. Call us today to enjoy the peaceful warmth only an infrared sauna can offer. We can't wait to hear from you!

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If you’re looking for a more natural way to manage your health, please contact us for a discovery call to see if our approach would be appropriate for your situation.

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