Seasonal Affective Disorder - Bright light therapy

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Bright light therapy has been in use for resolving seasonal affective disorder for several years. The process involves sending intense light through the eyes to reach the retina.
The nerve impulses created activate pineal gland in the mid-brain to reduce the production of melatonin, which has direct therapy effect on the sleep/wake patterns.

Bright light therapy system

  • It is necessary to undergo bright light therapy under the guidance of a medical professional.
  • The light system consists of a box wherein a set of fluorescent lamps are fixed to give the ambient level of intensity of light.
  • These therapy boxes are available in the intensity range of 2000-10000 lux; higher the lux. value, costlier they are.
  • The time required to spend before the therapy box get reduced with higher intensity.
  • At 10000 lux level the patient need to sit for about 30 minutes only.
  • Presently white spectrum is preferred and is found to be more effective.
  • Patients respond well to the SAD regimen if it is given early in the morning.
  • One important factor is the UV rays produced by the lamps. Proper screen must be there to filter the harmful ultraviolet rays.
  • The light box must be from a reputed manufacturer with the clear guarantee of the intensity of light produced and also of the UV protection.
Seasonal affective disorder - bright light therapy lamp
Seasonal affective disorder - bright light therapy lamp (enlarge)

Bright light therapy method for the disorder 

  • The disorder affected person is made to sit facing bright light box with eyes open.
  • He must refrain from gazing directly at the source so as not to tire his eyes.
  • He must sit close to the lamp to get greater intensity (at the prescribed distance recommended by the lamp manufacturer).
  • The rays must fall on the face and eyes from a higher angle so as not to produce glare.
  • Normal activities like eating and reading can be done. The requirement is only that the rays falls on the eyes.
  • This should go on till the spring. If stopped in between the Seasonal affective disorder may relapse.
There are rare side effects in the bright light therapy. Some persons with sensitive eyes get disturbing visual glare. Persons with retinal or ocular disorders must take the advice of their ophthalmologist. Some people with sensitive skin can get skin inflammation. Some people may switch to hyper-active mood during seasonal affective disorder bright light therapy.
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