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5 Best Light Therapy Lamps on Amazon for Seasonal Affective Disorder

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light therapy lamp on deskPhoto Credit: Getty Images

Light therapy lamps for SAD

Winter weather can come with many frustrations—the need to layer up, increased risk of cold and flu symptoms, and also this list of weird things that happen to your body in the winter.

But the effects of seasonal affective disorder or SAD can be among the most debilitating. “SAD is a type of depression that’s related to a change in seasons,” says Nina Maisterra, MD, a board-certified family medicine physician at the University of Washington in Seattle. “If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody.” The symptoms may start out mild but become more severe as the season progresses, she says.

While SAD shares some of the indicators of depression like sadness, loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed, and withdrawing from family and friends, there are unique symptoms of SAD, says Norman Rosenthal, MD, a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at Georgetown Medical School in Washington, D.C., and the doctor who first described the condition. “People get low energy and have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning; they need more sleep and when awake they are fatigued; and they eat more, especially sweets and starches,” he explains.

One of the first, and most effective, treatment options is a light therapy box, Dr. Rosenthal says. “It’s very time-efficient, cost-effective, and has low side effects,” he says. An analysis of 19 studies of light therapy treating SAD, published in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, found light boxes can be regarded as an effective treatment for SAD. And light therapy may be so effective that it has the potential in treating other types of depression, compared with Prozac, according to a 2016 peer-reviewed study in JAMA Psychiatry.

The light appears to activate connections between the retina and the brain involved in emotional and chemical regulation, Dr. Rosenthal explains. “It seems as though the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is the chemical some antidepressants work on, are also influenced and activated by light.” He says that in the darker months the pathways between the eye and the brain don’t register as powerfully because there isn’t enough light to trigger them, so supplementing light intake in individuals with SAD will help activate the pathway which is connected to key mood-regulating neurotransmitters.

Here are the best light therapy lamps to help alleviate symptoms of SAD, according to reviews on Amazon.

Note: Before trying light therapy, Dr. Maisterra warns that you should speak to a doctor because the lamps can induce manic episodes in those with bipolar episodes.

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carex day light classic plus bright light therapy lampvia amazon.com

Carex Day-Light Classic Plus

Designed similar to the models university researchers use to study the effectiveness of light therapy lamps, this full-spectrum light is easily adjustable in terms of height and angle. Mounted on a pedestal stand, the light projects downward, an angle that light-therapy experts recommend. This light is multi-functional with two settings, therapy and task, so it’s also a useful work lamp. Tip: Dr. Rosenthal advises looking for a light therapy device that gives off 10,000 lux of light, which is the intensity that has been studied in the research.

Carex Day-Light Classic Plus Bright Light Therapy Lamp, $ 190, amazon.ca

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