Light therapy to support with seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern, it’s often referred to as ‘winter depression’ because the symptoms are usually more apparent and more severe during the winter.

Symptoms of SAD usually include:

  1. A persistent low mood
  2. A loss of pleasure or interest in everyday activities
  3. Feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness
  4. Irritability
  5. Feeling lethargic, which includes lacking energy, and sleeping throughout the day
  6. Sleeping for longer periods of time than normal and struggling to get up in the morning
  7. Craving carbohydrates and gaining weight

One suggested way to treat SAD is through light therapy, also known as bright light therapy or phototherapy.

During light therapy you sit near a device called a light therapy box. The box gives off bright light that mimics natural outdoor light which is through to affect brain chemicals linked to your mood and sleep, easing symptoms of SAD.

You don’t need a prescription to buy a light therapy box, however you should ask your doctor or mental health provider if they think light therapy is a good option for you.

During light therapy you should sit or work near a light box. For the session to be effective the light must enter your eyes indirectly. However, it is important to note you should not look directly at the light box as it can damage your eyes. Make sure to follow your doctors’ recommendations along with the manufacturer’s instructions.

Light therapy requires consistency and time, it would be best setting your light box on a table or desk that way you can do the activities you enjoy whilst having light therapy.

Light therapy aims to ease symptoms of SAD, increase your energy levels and help you feel more positive about yourself and life. You should begin to see improvements within just a few days, although sometimes this can take up to two or more weeks.

To book an appointment with one of our GPs to discuss your mental health in more detail please book an appointment by calling 0161 394 0319 or use our online booking form.

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