>U Mom Knows Best: Does Light Therapy Help Seasonal Affective Disorder

Friday, January 31, 2020

Does Light Therapy Help Seasonal Affective Disorder

A case of the winter blues may be S.A.D. or Seasonal affective disorder. This winter condition can affect your mood and ability to function. Keep reading to discover how light therapy can help along with other tips.


 I don't like winter for so many reasons. The days are shorter and the nights are longer. That means less sunshine Winter means it is cold outside which limits time outside. Being stuck in the house can affect your mood. Then there are way too many days that the sun is covered by clouds. The cold temperatures mean that we have to run the heat in the house and that can dry out my skin and cause my hands to have sore cracks around the fingertips. The cold weather keeps me inside and all I want to do is hibernate under a soft warm blanket. 

 Most days I have to force myself to get out of bed. It can be hard to wake up when the sun is not out. The change in seasons can also affect my energy level. Most days I just don't have the energy to get anything done. Then nighttime rolls around and have a hard time falling asleep! Some say that I have a bad case of the winter blues but it is so much more. What I suffer from is seasonal affective disorder or SAD.

 To recognize this depressive disorder, you need to understand it. So, let’s discuss its signs and symptoms, causes, and treatment options, among other things. 

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

 Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year.

  While it is common for most people to experience low moods because the days tend to get shorter and the nights get longer, those experiencing seasonal depression have more severe mood changes. These mood changes have a major effect on how they feel, think, and perform everyday activities. 

Could your mood swings be SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder?

 Seasonal affective disorder is a type of major depression that affects many people during the winter season. For most, it starts with fall daylight savings or even earlier if they wake up before 7 AM. That morning sunlight helps so many people wake up and when they have to wake up in the dark, it can affect their body in so many ways. 

 I guess you could call seasonal affective disorder, the lack of sunshine disease. Sad has the same signs and symptoms as major depression, along with a few specific symptoms that differentiate it from major depression. 

Some of the symptoms of  SAD Include:

~ Low mood for most of the day and almost every day 
~  Loss of interest in once-pleasurable activities 
~ Sudden changes in weight and appetite 
~ Change in sleeping habits including insomnia
~ Feelings of fatigue 
~ Low energy levels 
~ Poor concentration 
~ Overeating with a focus on carbohydrate-rich foods 
~ Withdrawing from social activities 
~ Weight gain 
~ Anxiety

 I have suffered from seasonal depression for many years and over the years I have learned how to manage my depression symptoms better. I have also learned about different treatments for seasonal affective disorder that have helped me with my mood and my sleep. The number one thing that has helped my seasonal depression was moving to a state that has a shorter winter along with more sunshine. New Mexico typically has a short winter season of 3 months and most days are filled with sunshine. It rarely snows here and when it does, the snow melts by noon. I grew up in the midwest so the long winters and the snow really affected me with my depression.

Treatment Options for SAD

Some of the treatment options for SAD include everything from light therapy to medications that can help with depression. I recommend trying some natural SAD treatments first, before having the doctor write a prescription for depression medication. 

Check out the SAD treatments that I use:

1.  Spend time in the sun ~ If the sun is out and the weather is not bitter cold, I will go for a walk outside. The sun has a powerful effect on the way you feel. Spending 30 minutes to an hour in the sun helps your body absorb vitamin D, which helps with everything from energy to mood and even immunity.

2. Sit by a window ~ The weather does not always cooperate for getting outside so when the sun is outside, I will sit by a window that faces the sun for a least an hour. While not as powerful as being outside, your body can still get some benefits from the sun. The sun can help lift your mood.

3. Vitamin D supplements ~ The lack of sunshine in the winter can affect the levels of Vitamin D in our body and low levels of Vitamin D can affect your mood, causing depression symptoms. Taking an extra-strength vitamin D supplement can boost your mood and support your energy.

4. Light Therapy ~ Winter depression can be caused by lack of sunshine exposure and light therapy can help. Bright light therapy works on different levels, producing a combined beneficial effect similar to sun exposure. A Sunlight Lamp can help raise your mood, improve your sleep, boost your low energy, and even improve concentration. using our mood light therapy light. 

5. Exercise ~ The benefits of exercise to your body are many. From helping with energy levels all the way to your mood and even sleep. 30 minutes a day of exercise can help with seasonal depression. I find that morning exercise helps depression but if you only have time in the evening to workout, that is also good.

6. Sunrise Alarm Clock ~ Light can help you get out of bed in the morning and the lack of sun in the morning could be a major reason it is hard to get out of bed. Using a Sunrise Alarm Clock can make a huge difference in the way you feel, This type of alarm clock fills the room with light and helps your body wake up in a more natural way. This alarm clock also has preset sounds like birds singing.

7. Healthy diet ~ Diet has a huge factor in the way you feel and a healthy diet can help with depression symptoms. Try to eat more fruits and veggies which are loaded with vitamins and minerals that support the mood.

8. Sleep ~ A lack of sleep could affect your mood and energy levels. So force yourself to go to bed earlier and say no to mindless internet scrolling. Aim for 6-8 hours of sleep. If you have insomnia, sleep can be difficult and you may need to try sleep supplements like magnesium to help your body fall asleep. 

9. Magnesium ~ Magnesium is known for supporting quality sleep and promoting healthy, natural sleep patterns and REM cycles. It has a calming effect on muscles and throughout the body which may help your body fall asleep. Taking a magnesium supplement 30 minutes before bedtime works best. If you find that magnesium does not help you sleep, try taking your magnesium supplement in the morning.  For some people, magnesium stimulates their body as I discovered. You can still get the sleep benefits of magnesium with a morning magnesium supplement.

Our bodies need sunshine

  Did you know that the lack of sunshine can affect things like your sleep, energy levels, mood, and even your health? I know that when I don't get my daily sunshine, I have trouble sleeping that night, and none of these 10 sleep tips for better sleep help. Too many nights of bad sleep can lead to health problems and even can cause you to get into a car accident. Studies show that more car accidents happen with daylight savings. So you may have SAD and a simple therapy light may make a difference.

 Treatment for SAD may include light therapy

 This winter has been cold and dreary with very few days of full sunshine. So my seasonal depression has really sapped my energy. I have tried to be proactive to make some changes in my day and have been following these tips to help with winter blues. The tips that have been helping my mood the most have been exercising first thing in the day and using a Sunlight Therapy Light for 30 minutes a day.

 I finally decided that I needed to try light therapy this year for my seasonal depression and I am glad that I did. The Mayo Clinic suggests using  light therapy for the treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder. This simple light has really helped me with my mood and my energy.

How bright light therapy works

 Scientists believe that bright light therapy works on different levels, producing a combined beneficial effect. When used at an appropriate morning hour (or in rare cases, evening hour), it corrects the misalignment of the internal body clock, known as the circadian rhythm, with external night and day.

 Don't brush off that yearly feeling as simply a case of the "winter blues" or a seasonal funk that you have to tough out on your own. Take steps to keep your mood and motivation steady throughout the winter season. Try the tips that I listed above to see if they help improve your depression.


Tamara Camera said...

I have always had a bit of SAD but it was worse this past fall/winter than it's ever been. I didn't get a light but I've heard it can be super beneficial. Some things that help me are paying attention to the extra minute of sunlight we get a day, and also traveling somewhere warm for winter. That's not always an option, though! I'll look into this.

Brandy Ellen said...

I have my light on while I sit here, a HappyLight that I use all winter season long. Light therapy really does help those of us who are impacted by the shorter days.

Kathy said...

I honestly haven't really heard much about light therapy. This is something I'd really like to look more in to though. It sounds really interesting.

Heather said...

Excellent tips for something that affects so many. We live in Arizona where it's always sunny.

The Super Mom Life said...

My mother does light therapy for one of her conditions. It seems to help her.

Jaredamy said...

I also have SAD too although it's been a little better this year. We've had a really warm and sunny winter so far.

Adventures in Aussieland said...

I struggle during the winter season as well. It's hard when you're up and at work before the sunrise and driving back home in the dark. I haven't tried light therapy as of yet but I've heard incredible things about it.

Kate said...

When i lived in NY my SAD was out of control. It was the worst and I had no idea what was causing it. I ended up getting UV light therapy and it changed my life. But I didn’t have one of those nifty contraptions. I went and laid in a booth similar to a tanning booth but without the bronze after effects.

Mom Knows Best said...

I would love to travel somewhere warm right now

Mom Knows Best said...

Love the name happy light

Mom Knows Best said...

That is awesome to hear that it changed your life

Mom Knows Best said...

Our winter has been the opposite and we have had way to many dark days

Mom Knows Best said...

Arizona would be great in the winter

Sherry said...

I suffer from depression and it's always worse in the winter. I do take a vitamin D supplement but I have been thinking about getting therapy lamp.

Gust si Aroma said...

Thank you for sharing your story with us! I've never heard about SAD disorder and I understand how difficult this can be for you!

Lisa Joy Thompson said...

Light therapy makes such a huge difference when it comes to SAD. I moved from the cloudy gloomy midwest to sunny southwest Florida and it's done wonders for my mental health!

Judy @ Chocolaterunsjudy said...

I definitely suffer with SAD -- it was much better when I lived in TX, but unfortunately we moved to upstate NY 11 years ago. I have been using a small light for a long time -- I think it helps, too.

Nyxie said...

I swear by light lamps / light therapy lamps. They have helped me so much. I'm trying to get out more now that the days aren't as cold, but these are a great substitute.

Why Girls Are Weird said...

I've been really wanting to get a light therapy lamp. I had a veterinarian that I worked with that used one and swore by it. I'll definitely need to invest.

Ruth I said...

I heard a lot of good things about light therapy. It is one of the simplest ones I've known. What a nice stress reliever.

Marie at Complete Literature said...

I actually love the nights that get dark earlier! I love to settle in when it gets dark. But I do have several friends that have SAD and most of them are aware of and do light therapy. I will see if they are familiar with this particular item.

Fransic Verso said...

Good thing my desk is infront of a window which I can get sun all, but still I go out to get some sun. Sharing this with friends to be aware as well.

Candace Hampton said...

This would be great for people that live in areas where it's super wintery. I live in Texas, so I'm lucky I can usually get outside year around. Lacking Vitamin D is something you don't realize was affecting until you get enough of it! Thank you for sharing - this could help a lot of people.

Angelia Medlin said...

THis is a great concept and if it helps anyone who suffers from SAD then its a great idea.

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