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7 Light Therapy Lamps That Help Treat Seasonal Affective Disorder, According to Experts

Prevention Logo By Micaela Bahn of Prevention | Slide 1 of 8: As winter approaches and daylight begins to dwindle down to a few precious hours, some may start to feel a serious shift in their mood that goes beyond typical winter blues. This difference might look like new levels of lethargy, unusual food habits, and an inability to feel pleasure. Sound familiar? Luckily there are things you can do to combat seasonal depression. Enter: the best light therapy lamps. What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?For those who have a harder time handling these issues, it may be a case of Seasonal Affective Disorder, also fittingly known as SAD, a pattern of major depressive episodes that correlate directly with the changing seasons. “This differs from winter blues in the syndromic quality and the durational quality of lasting two consecutive weeks with spontaneous remission in spring,” says Teodor Postolache, M.D., a professor of psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Whether you have a clinically diagnosed case of SAD or simply the winter blues, one treatment to consider with your doctor is bright light therapy (BLT).Since gaining recognition in the 1980s, BLT has become “a first-line clinical standard for treatment of SAD,” according to a 2003 article in the journal, Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience. But BLT is also an effective treatment for less severe forms of depression and sleep disorders. Here’s what to keep in mind when shopping for a light therapy lamp:Light therapy is a generally safe treatment option, but it isn't for everyone. “For individuals who have retinal diseases or are bipolar, bright light therapy can have a detrimental effect,” says Dr. Postolache. While light therapy has fewer side effects than medication, it is still important to figure out a treatment course with a medical professional. Find a lamp with the right intensity: Lux is the measurement of light that indicates the intensity of your lightbox. “You want a light to deliver around 10,000 Lux at eye level,” Dr. Postolache explains. “This is because if you look directly at the lightbox, the light gets concentrated in an area of the retina where you don’t have cells that may be responsible for the mood-elevating effects of light. These are more diffuse in the retina.” Instead, let the light enter your eyes indirectly from approximately 16 inches away.Carve out time in your schedule: Duration is one of the key elements for an effective treatment. Daily sessions of 20-30 minutes are typical with a 10,000 Lux light. “Some people who are more sensitive to light may need less,” says Dr. Postolache.Stay consistent: A doctor should help you find the best time of day to administer your light therapy. Once you have found what works for your body, it’s critical that you stay consistent as light affects your internal circadian rhythm. Administering the light in the morning after you first wake up tends to be the best course for most individuals, according to the Mayo Clinic.After scouring the internet for lamps that fall under the necessary criteria as outlined by Dr. Postolache and the Yale School of Medicine, we found the best light therapy lamps on the market to help you stay (and feel) a little brighter this winter.

As winter approaches and daylight begins to dwindle down to a few precious hours, some may start to feel a serious shift in their mood that goes beyond typical winter blues. This difference might look like new levels of lethargy, unusual food habits, and an inability to feel pleasure. Sound familiar? Luckily there are things you can do to combat seasonal depression. Enter: the best light therapy lamps.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

For those who have a harder time handling these issues, it may be a case of Seasonal Affective Disorder, also fittingly known as SAD, a pattern of major depressive episodes that correlate directly with the changing seasons. “This differs from winter blues in the syndromic quality and the durational quality of lasting two consecutive weeks with spontaneous remission in spring,” says Teodor Postolache, M.D., a professor of psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Whether you have a clinically diagnosed case of SAD or simply the winter blues, one treatment to consider with your doctor is bright light therapy (BLT).

Since gaining recognition in the 1980s, BLT has become “a first-line clinical standard for treatment of SAD,” according to a 2003 article in the journal, Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience. But BLT is also an effective treatment for less severe forms of depression and sleep disorders.

Here’s what to keep in mind when shopping for a light therapy lamp:

Light therapy is a generally safe treatment option, but it isn't for everyone. “For individuals who have retinal diseases or are bipolar, bright light therapy can have a detrimental effect,” says Dr. Postolache. While light therapy has fewer side effects than medication, it is still important to figure out a treatment course with a medical professional.

Find a lamp with the right intensity: Lux is the measurement of light that indicates the intensity of your lightbox. “You want a light to deliver around 10,000 Lux at eye level,” Dr. Postolache explains. “This is because if you look directly at the lightbox, the light gets concentrated in an area of the retina where you don’t have cells that may be responsible for the mood-elevating effects of light. These are more diffuse in the retina.” Instead, let the light enter your eyes indirectly from approximately 16 inches away.

Carve out time in your schedule: Duration is one of the key elements for an effective treatment. Daily sessions of 20-30 minutes are typical with a 10,000 Lux light. “Some people who are more sensitive to light may need less,” says Dr. Postolache.

Stay consistent: A doctor should help you find the best time of day to administer your light therapy. Once you have found what works for your body, it’s critical that you stay consistent as light affects your internal circadian rhythm. Administering the light in the morning after you first wake up tends to be the best course for most individuals, according to the Mayo Clinic.

After scouring the internet for lamps that fall under the necessary criteria as outlined by Dr. Postolache and the Yale School of Medicine, we found the best light therapy lamps on the market to help you stay (and feel) a little brighter this winter.

© Malte Mueller - Getty Images

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