If your depression is seasonal - coming on in the fall and winter months and going away in the spring - you may suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). See What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder? to learn more.

What it is. The standard treatment for SAD is daily exposure to bright light. For 80% of SAD sufferers, this treatment reduces or stops depressive symptoms. Light treatment usually involves a light box with special bright lights. These lights are much brighter than ordinary light, giving off as much as 2,500 lux. A lux is a unit of illumination. An ordinary light bulb may give off 100 lux. Your doctor can order special therapeutic lights for you. Because these therapeutic lights require precise timing and brightness to be safe and effective, be sure to talk with your doctor about what time of day and how long to use the lights.

Will I Benefit From Light Therapy?

Note which statements below apply to you. If you are depressed and you experience some of these symptoms as daylight diminishes and winter approaches, you may benefit from light therapy .

  • I feel less energetic.
  • I am less productive.
  • I have trouble getting motivated.
  • I have trouble concentrating and focusing.
  • I feel impatient with other people and myself.
  • I have trouble getting out of bed in the morning.
  • I crave sweets and carbohydrates.