How to Use a Light Box for Depression


Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that usually occurs during the winter months. Like other forms of depression, seasonal affective disorder may be treated successfully with prescription medication, psychotherapy or a combination of both.

Interestingly, research has shown that using light therapy with a so-called “light box” may be another effective treatment option for this particular form of depression.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that occurs during winter, when there is less natural light from the sun. Once spring and summer months come around, this form of depression typically subsides. In some people, seasonal affective disorder may return year after year.

Light Therapy Overview

During light therapy, a person with seasonal affective disorder sits near a device called a “light box,” which gives off bright light that mimics natural outdoor light.

While light boxes are available to purchase over the Internet or at a local drug store, it is important to work with a doctor to determine the correct amount of light and length of time that a person should spend in front of the light box.

Light Box Therapy Effectiveness

Research has shown that therapy with a light box is effective in treating seasonal affective disorder. However, nearly half of the people with this form of depression do not recover with just receiving light therapy. For these people, an antidepressant and psychotherapy may also be used in combination with light therapy to help reduce depressive symptoms.

Sources: National Alliance on Mental Illness and Mayo Clinic


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