How do I know if I've got SAD?
If you're always start to feel the symptoms start the same time each year, every Autumn/Winter it's very likely you suffer from SAD.
How can light therapy help?
Getting sufficient light rebalances the melatonin (the hormone that makes you sleepy) and the serotonin (the hormone that makes you feel alert and happy).The light has to be bright enough, and must go in through the eye, to affect the hormone production in the brain. The Society for Light Treatment and Biological Rhythms (SLTBR) has stated that light therapy is the best non-drug therapy to treat SAD.
What is the difference between the lightboxes?
The main difference between the units is the size of the units, the brightness of them, and consequently the length of time that you need to use them. The brighter the unit, the less time your treatment should be. We have shown on our comparison chart the ideal distance that you need to sit from a unit together with the length of treatment that you need. If you sit further away then the light would be dimmer, so you have to increase the treatment time.
How should I choose a lightbox?
Look at your daily routine, and consider when and where you are going to use your lightbox. It will need to fit in with your lifestyle as easily as possible to ensure regular usage. Many styles can be used either at home or in an office environment. The longest treatment time you need to take with one of the less bright lightboxes is 1½ hours. So if you have only a little time to take your treatment, choose one of the brighter fast acting boxes, but if you are able to take your treatment for longer, for instance, while you are working at a desk, then a small, portable, less bright model may suit you better.
When is the best time to take my light therapy?
Light therapy should be taken as early as possible in the morning, to keep you going through the day. This is not always the case for everyone, but on the whole it is best earlier rather than later. It is preferable to take your treatment at the same time each day.
Do I have to take my treatment in one go?
No, you can interrupt your light treatment and continue it later on the same day if this suits your routine better.
What time of the year should I start and finish my light therapy treatment?
It is best to start using your light therapy unit early in the season, before any symptoms of SAD appear, preferably early September. Continue until March or April, whenever the days start to get brighter and longer.
How long until I start to notice a difference?
This can vary, but some people notice a difference from the first day of treatment, and some take longer, between 2-3 weeks. Usually you should see a difference in about a week or so. If you stop taking your treatment, the symptoms will start roughly in as many days as the benefits took to be felt.
Do I have to stare at the lightbox?
No, you need to have the light aimed towards your eyes, without actually looking directly into it, about an arms distance away from you. You can carry on with your daily routine with the lightbox on beside you, for example, it can be beside your computer terminal or on your desk, or near you while watching TV, ironing etc. Ideally it should be about an arms distance away from you, within your peripheral vision, not directly in front of you, and to glance at it from time to time.
Are there other conditions that can benefit from light therapy?
Yes, seasonal and non seasonal depression can both be helped with light therapy as well, people suffering with MS, ME, Bulimia, infertility, PMT, insomnia, fatigue, shift work sleep problems , Alzheimer. It has even shown that fertility rates and libido can be improved.
How often will I need to change the bulbs?
It is advisable to change the bulbs every three years, as all fluorescent tubes loose some of their brightness with time, which will weaken the effectiveness of the lightbox. LED lights never need to be replaced.
Can lightboxes be used by children?
Yes, even very young children can suffer from SAD. The dawn simulators can be particularly beneficial. You must, however, follow normal safety guidelines as you would for any electrical appliance.