As summer wanes and fall’s crisper winds usher us toward winter each year, seasonal affective Disorder (SAD) kicks in for millions of people. This type of depression typically recurs annually during the colder, darker months, and lifts in the spring, although 40 percent of SAD cases wind up continuing on into non-seasonal symptoms, according to a paper published in the scientific journal Neuropsychopharmacology.
Whether you grapple with SAD yearly or want to preemptively seek treatment to avoid developing symptoms, light therapy lamps can be effective at-home tools for counteracting the damage done by shorter days with less sunlight. If you’ve never tried light therapy to boost depleted energy or heightened lethargy, Amazon shoppers have done the research for you and discovered Verilux’s HappyLight.
To buy: Verilux HappyLight Light Therapy Energy Lamp, $80; amazon.com
Providing 10,000 lux (a unit of luminosity), the bright white light mimics sunlight to help improve your mood on gloomy winter days. With a cumulative 4.5-star rating, many reviewers credit the light with making them “friendlier and more tolerant of stress,” eliminating a “sense of fear, dread, and hopelessness as night fell,” and preparing them to be “ready to meet the day.”
Verilux recommends using the light therapy box within four hours of waking up, during that post-lunch slump (instead of grabbing another cup of coffee), or whenever you need a quick pick-me-up. You can choose between two brightness levels and tilt the large lens to adjust how directly the light beams onto your face.
Some of the positive reviews comment on how quickly adding this light into their daily routines reversed some of their SAD symptoms.
“I wish I had found this light five years ago. The first day I used it for about 15 minutes, and I wasn't sure, but I thought I felt a little peppier for the first few hours after I used it,” one said. “The second day I used it for 20-30 minutes, and I definitely felt better. I've used it for a couple weeks now, and it has significantly improved my quality of life. I definitely have more energy, vitality and interest in everything in my life. I have forgotten to use it a couple of times and by the afternoon on those days I'm dragging and wondering what's wrong, then I realize I forgot to use the light. It really helps give me my life back in fall, and I assume it will continue in winter and spring.”
Many others confess they used to doubt the efficacy of these devices, but the success they’ve experienced with this light has completely reversed their opinions, turning them from skeptics to believers.
One reviewer explained, “I love my Happy Light! At first, I thought it was a simple marketing ploy for a product that most likely, didn’t provide the benefits that it claimed to offer. I was so wrong! 30 minutes every morning, and my spirits are lifted, I have more energy and a better outlook for the day ahead. I realize that it is mostly used for seasonal depression, but I use it every morning, every day of the year and it helps immensely! I would absolutely recommend to anyone who gets the blues on gray days…:”
While the Verilux HappyLight can help reverse symptoms of SAD—like feelings of depression, sleep issues, low energy levels, loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed, changes in appetite, increased agitation, sluggishness, and trouble concentrating—it’s still important to meet with your healthcare provider about any debilitating or worsening depression symptoms. And since the light therapy box emits little to no UV rays—meaning it’s safe to expose your skin to the light—that also means it doesn’t provide vitamin D, so if you’re worried about vitamin D deficiency resulting from less sunlight in the winter, you’ll want to check with your doctor about taking a vitamin D supplement.
No single treatment is a miracle cure for mental health conditions, but light therapy (or phototherapy) has helped many people—and with so many glowing user testimonials, the HappyLight seems like a promising tool to get you feeling more like yourself again.
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