Light Therapy for Seasonal Affective Disorder plus a review of Verilux HappyLight Touch, a 10,000 Lux tablet device designed for home use. I was diagnosed with a “mild form” of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in the late 1980s when diagnosing the “winter blahs disease” wasn’t widely recognized. I was in my mid-late teens when I noticed symptoms that went a little beyond constantly wishing it was summertime. Nothing paralyzing or severe, but noticeable symptoms. Constant lethargy, the desire to eat every carbohydrate in the house, and just feeling a little “off” all ruled my Michigan winters in my teens & early twenties. I found myself dreading the post-Halloween time of year when Daylight Savings Time kicks in and counting the days until the first day of Spring.
I listened to my Dr’s advice and fought through and managed most of these typical symptoms with fresh air, exercise during the day, more exposure to sunlight, and fighting the urge to nap all the time with a better diet and a rigid sleep schedule.
OAKLAND COUNTY MOMS FAMILY HEALTH & BEHAVIORAL HEALTH ARTICLES
Light Therapy for Seasonal Affective Disorder
My biggest SAD symptom relief came in the form of light therapy… from a tanning bed! Back then, though frowned upon, I would even visit the local tanning salon. The first time I went to a tanning booth in the winter, I felt like a supercharged rocket once inside (and immediately afterward). I knew early that light therapy, in addition to other methods, was a very easy way for me to manage my SAD.
Seasonal Affective Disorder – Worse for Teens?
Though I haven’t been able to find a study on the subject, I think SAD is most prevalent during teen years – or at least my worse ones were. Something about puberty just seemed to amplify my symptoms. Since my mid-twenties, I still have a tough time with the lack of sunlight in the winter… but it’s a lot easier for me to deal with now… mostly due to diet, exercise, and outside activities.
RELATED – I think mental health professionals should really look into SAD its effect on teens. I really think there is a correlation between puberty / hormones and intense Seasonal Affective Disorder symptoms.
Runs in the Family?
Flashforward to 2021, I noticed my teen daughter also struggling with SAD symptoms – ALL of them. I began shopping for light therapy options that are far safer than an 80’s tanning bed. I looked into portable Light Therapy options years ago but found them bulky with expensive to replace incandescent light bulbs. Thankfully, there are a lot of efficient, easy-to-use light therapy devices that are relatively affordable. She was going to use one and I was going to use it too.
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Verilux HappyLight Touch Review
Verilux HappyLight Touch is a small, but powerful 10,000 Lux LED unit. It has 2 settings – “warm white” reminds me of a bright Drs office light and “day light” (mimics natural sunlight). You can toggle the brightness of the unit with 3 settings.
You can use the Verilux by positioning it just off-center of your face to almost a profile of one side of your face from a length of 6-24 inches. You’re not supposed to be looking directly at it – trust me, you won’t want to – the light is blinding and uncomfortable to stare at. Recommended light exposure time is from 20-60 minutes per day or as needed.
I’ve been using this unit for quite a while now and I’m pleased with the results. Though I don’t “need” the light quite like I did in my teens & 20s, I do feel a “boost”. Also, I’ve been sleeping more deeply since using the device. My daughter is also reporting positive results (and I’ve noticed her days seem brighter too).
I’m aware of a certain placebo effect that could take place. You relax for 30-60 minutes each day with this unit where you would normally be doing something stressful and this could seem like a vacation. But, I really believe in light therapy for Seasonal Affective Disorder and feel the positive impact from the lamp. Plus, even if it was placebo… I’m still happy with the results.
While I believe the Verilux does help with fatigue, sleep cycles, and easing the “winter blahs”… the unit does have a couple of engineering flaws. The plastic stand doesn’t stay in the lamp very well and falls over easily when you move it – I wish the stand locked into place and was difficult to remove. Second, the cord is shorter than I would prefer. Also, the intensity of the 10,000 Lux power causes the cheap AC plug to burn very hot – even after just 20 minutes. I’m also hoping for a cordless version someday, but I don’t think the technology is there quite yet due to the amount of energy this lamp puts out.
SOURCE – Verilux HappyLight Touch
SOURCE – Seasonal Affective Disorder via the Mayoclinic
Light therapy for Seasonal Affective Disorder
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