Light therapy: perfect prescription to cure the blues?

Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression. According to Mental Health America it affects half a million people in the United States every year. It’s linked to the lack of sunlight with one of its symptoms being fatigue. Marquette resident Jeni Kilpela said when winter rolled around she noticed her energy levels dried up.

“I’d keep asking myself or say to my husband, I wonder if I’m getting a cold,” explained Kilpela. “We both agreed we had a lot more energy in the summertime. I thought why not check into getting a light that would have UV rays to get some more sunshine.”

The Marquette resident purchased a light box and says her winter months have seemed brighter after adding more light to her life.

“I do feel a lot more energized,” she said. “It’s just a thing that if you work into your routine, becomes a part of what you do in the winter.”

Marquette General Hospital therapist Mindy Miller explained sunlight stimulates serotonin in the brain which regulates our mood naturally.

Miller even uses light therapy to treat her own symptoms of winter blues and says it gives her more energy and allows her “to stay a little more focused.”

“It generally wakes me up better than a cup of coffee would,” she adds.

If you decide to purchase a light box Miller recommends

  • Purchasing a light with 10,000lux to be effective
  • Making sure you’re within 3 feet of the lamp
  • Using it for 30 minutes when you wake up
  • Never use it after 3 p.m.

The therapist adds that a good light box can cost anywhere from $300 to $500.

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