Home treatment is very important in
the treatment of
seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Home treatment for
an episode of depression may include a combination of the following:
therapy is an effective treatment for SAD.1
There are two types of light therapy: bright light treatment, in which
you sit in front of a "light box" for a certain amount of time (usually in the
morning), and dawn simulation, which is done while you sleep. For dawn
simulation, a low-intensity light is timed to go on at a certain time in the
morning before you wake up, and it gradually gets brighter.
boxes are available commercially and use fluorescent lights that are brighter
than indoor lights but not as bright as sunlight.
Ultraviolet light, full-spectrum light, tanning lamps,
and heat lamps should not be used. You place the light box at a specified
distance from you on a desk or in front of a chair and use it while you read,
eat breakfast, or work at a computer. Light therapy is usually prescribed for
30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the intensity of the light used and on
whether you are starting out or are using it to maintain a response.
may take as little as 3 to 5 days or up to 2 weeks before you respond to light
therapy. Stopping light therapy will likely cause you to relapse back into
Light therapy may work by
resetting your "biological clock" (circadian rhythms), which controls sleeping and waking.
If you have
eye problems or you take medicines that make you light-sensitive, ask your
doctor about whether light therapy is safe for you. Before you start treatment,
tell your doctor about any other conditions you have and about the medicines
you are taking .
Light therapy will need to be continued for the
entire time you are depressed. People who discontinue treatment usually lapse
back into depression.3
- Seasonal Affective Disorder: Using Light Therapy
Being physically active during
the daytime, especially first thing in the morning during winter, may help
improve your energy level and relieve
depression. Moderate exercises like walking,
stationary cycling, and swimming are a good way to start an exercise
Experts say to do either of these things to get and stay
- Moderate activity for at least 2� hours
a week. One way to do this is to be active 30 minutes a day, at least 5 days a
week. Moderate activity means things like brisk walking, brisk cycling, or
shooting baskets. But any activities-including daily chores-that raise your
heart rate can be included. You notice your heart
beating faster with this kind of activity.
- Vigorous activity for at least 1� hours a week. One way to do this is to be
active 25 minutes a day, at least 3 days a week. Vigorous activity means things
like jogging, cycling fast, or cross-country skiing. You breathe rapidly and
your heart beats much faster with this kind of activity.