Light therapy devices can help you beat the winter blues.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) causes symptoms such as depression, lethargy, excessive sleepiness, irritability, and avoidance of social activities. And the “winter blues” can affect about 10% of the population at this latitude of the country.
Sitting before a specialized light box for 20-30 minutes per day can help. Light therapy can begin to help faster and can have fewer side effects than antidepressants. Light therapy can also be an alternative for women who are pregnant or nursing. For more info about light therapy, see cet.org and take the self-assessments on cet.org/self-assessment to find out what time of day to use the light.
Notre Dame faculty, staff and students can sign up to use the light box in the University Counseling Center’s Inner Resources Room. Or anyone may buy their own, which in some cases could be covered by insurance or reimbursed from a health care savings account.
The Inner Resources Room is available to faculty and staff as well as students.
Wendy Settle, PhD, staff psychologist with the University Counseling Center, recommends buying a light that meets specialized criteria. (See criteria at www.cet.org/). She also recommends that you be evaluated and monitored by a health treatment professional who knows about depression as well as about light therapy and its rare but possible side effects.