Light therapy is simple. The light box is made up of fluorescent bulbs, a reflective surface, and a diffusing screen. Ordinary household lighting is not sufficient. You sit a few feet away from the ultra-bright light for a certain amount of time each day, usually in the morning. You will be able to read or work during the therapy, as your eyes will remain open. Your doctor will probably start you off with 15-20 minutes a day. You will gradually increase the time, usually to 30-45 minutes daily.
There is some evidence that light therapy may be as effective as antidepressant therapy, but with fewer side effects. *
Tanning beds are not recommended as a source of light therapy. They give off ultraviolet light, which can increase the risk of cancer. They also have not been proven effective for treating SAD. Many people find that getting outdoors for a walk each day is also helpful.
Your doctor may prescribe anti-depressant medications. These medications are usually prescribed when a person does not feel better with light therapy or if the depression is very severe.
A medication called bupropion (Wellbutrin XL) has shown to be effective in preventing relapses of SAD.
Therapists can help you learn ways of managing stress and the symptoms of SAD.
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