When the days get shorter, it is not unusual for feelings of sadness and loneliness to become more dominant. For some people, this issue evolves into depression-like symptoms that can quickly become overwhelming.
If this issue occurs, your doctor might diagnose you with a condition called “seasonal affective disorder,” or SAD.
SAD isn’t relegated to the fall and winter months. With 90% of our time spent indoors, artificial lighting exposure can produce similar outcomes.
Light therapy offers a way to treat this condition by affecting the chemicals that regulate sleepiness and mood.
How Does Light Therapy Work?
When you engage in light therapy, you sit in from of a lamp with UV light. It should be filtered through a box because it can damage your skin and eyes with pure exposure.
This light source replicates what the sun provides when stepping outside during the afternoon. With continued exposure, the SAD symptoms can start decreasing.
It can also be used to treat certain skin conditions, such as psoriasis, when under a doctor’s care.
What Are the Risks of Using Light Therapy?
For most people, the use of light therapy is relatively safe. If any side effects occur, the unwanted symptoms are typically short and mild.
Most people report experiencing headaches, nausea, and eye strain when exposed to the light source. It is also possible to have agitation, irritability, euphoria, mania, and hyperactivity, especially if someone has a bipolar disorder diagnosis.
If side effects occur when using light therapy, they typically resolve on their own within a few days. When the symptoms are bothersome, it is possible to manage the issue by reducing your treatment time, taking breaks, or moving further away from the box.
Your doctor will let you know if light therapy is safe for you to use. If you take medication that makes your body more sensitive to sunlight, you’ll want to get the advice of a medical professional before pursuing this option.