Can the winter blues be cured with light? There may be a new way to deal with seasonal affective disorder.
Fox’s Deena Centofanti investigated the effects light has on seasonal depression to see if light really does fight the winter blues.
“Seasonal affective disorder is a general term. It can refer to anything from what most of us get, the ‘winter blues,’ to something as serious as a severe major depressive disorder,” said Dr. Howard Belkin of the Birmingham Counseling Center.
There are many different ways to fight depression – light being one of them. It has been shown that sunlight raises serotonin levels, which make you feel good. During 8 weeks of a Canadian study with 100 seasonal affective disorder patients, it showed that light therapy, in comparison to an anti-depressant, had equal improvement with the patients.
Light boxes, also called happy lights, are used frequently for light therapy. They are recommended to be used at 10,000 lux - a measurement of light - near your face for 30 minutes a day.
“The 10,000 lux light can be 50 to 100 times powerful as regular indoor light,” Belkin said.
Lawrence Millben, an I.T. Manager, who rarely sees light in his office, said that he walks down the hall just to get some sun. For Millben and most people like him, a light box can be effective in helping the feelings of lethargy and depression, especially while in the work place. The light box, also called a happy light, are sold for 100 dollars and can easily be found in stores or online.