Light therapy continued...
Light boxes use fluorescent lights that are brighter than indoor lights but not as bright as sunlight. Ultraviolet lights, full-spectrum lights, tanning lamps, and heat lamps should not be used.
Light therapy is usually prescribed for 30 minutes to 2 hours a day. The amount of time depends on how strong the light is and on whether you are starting out or are have been using it for a while.
You may start to feel better within a week or so after you
start light therapy. But you need to stay with it and use it every day until
the season changes. If you don't, your depression could come back.
Antidepressant medicines may help people who have SAD. They may be used alone or with light therapy. The most common ones prescribed for SAD include:
If your doctor prescribes an antidepressant, be sure you
take it the way you're told to. Do not stop taking it suddenly. This could cause side effects or make your depression worse. When
you are ready to stop, your doctor can help you slowly reduce the dose to
Counseling may also help. Some
types of counseling, such as
cognitive-behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy, can help you learn more
about SAD, how to manage your symptoms, and how to help prevent future episodes..
What can you do on your own to feel better?
Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
Getting more sunlight may help too, so try to get outside to exercise when the sun is shining. Being active during the daytime, especially early in the day, may
help you have more energy and feel less depressed.
Moderate exercise is safe for most people. But it's always a good idea to talk to your doctor before you start an exercise program.
Some people try complementary treatments to help with SAD.
If you want to use them, be sure to check with your doctor first. They may interact with other medicines or treatments.
- St. John's wort is an herb that may help ease depression symptoms.
But you should not take it if you are taking antidepressant medicine. It may make you sensitive to light, so it may not be recommended if you are using light therapy.
- Melatonin is a hormone that may help regulate your biological clock. But you need to take a very low dose at a specific time of the day.