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Tags: seasonal affective disorder | SAD | light boxes

Are Light Boxes Effective Against Seasonal Affective Disorder?

By    |   Saturday, 05 September 2015 12:20 AM EDT

Light boxes are thought to be somewhat effective in helping with symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), according to the Mayo Clinic.

The boxes are described as phototherapy boxes, light boxes and bright light therapy boxes, Mayo noted.

"Bright light works by stimulating cells in the retina that connect to the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that helps control circadian rhythms. Activating the hypothalamus at a certain time every day can restore a normal circadian rhythm and thus banish seasonal symptoms," according to WebMD.

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The boxes require a patient to sit close to a light box for about 30 minutes each day. Exposure to their 10,000 lux should occur as soon as the patient rises each morning. Patients can't look directly at the light but must keep their eyes open to be exposed to it.

Some think light therapy is as effective as antidepressant medications on many patients, but it doesn't work the same on everyone, Harvard Health reported.

Doctors often prescribe light box exposure, and there are many styles of boxes available in the marketplace. But, noted the Mayo Clinic, many health insurance plans will not pay for the cost of a box.

"All light boxes for SAD treatment are designed do the same thing, but one may work better for you than another. Be sure to consult with your doctor so that you get a light therapy box that best suits your needs," the Mayo Clinic said, noting different types, sizes, and intensities of light offered.

Patients may buy light boxes online or in some retail stores. They are not, however, approved by or regulated through the Food and Drug Administration.

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Harvard researchers said that more study continues on how to improve light boxes. One new idea is to make boxes that mimic sunrise and sunset — going from darkness to 300 lux.

WebMD noted that while easy and safe — with not many side effects — those who take medications that might cause light sensitivity or those with eye issues, should talk with their doctors before trying out light therapy.

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Light boxes are thought to be somewhat effective in helping with symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), according to the Mayo Clinic.
seasonal affective disorder, SAD, light boxes
Saturday, 05 September 2015 12:20 AM
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