Light Boxes for Winter Depression?

Ask the Expert Patient Health Guide
  • Question


    Karmas writes:


    Although I am getting better, I am a bit apprehensive that winter is approaching and I get into my worse depressions in November through January. Last year, in December, I was hospitalized for 8 days. I heard there is a light you can get that helps ease the depression. Does anyone know about it? Any experiences you may have with it? If it exists, does it help? Can any light work if you stay in it long enough? I don't want to go there again and would do anything that could make it more tolerable.




    Hi, Karmas. Many individuals with bipolar swear by light boxes. Others think it doesn't make much difference. Either way, they are well worth the $200-300 investment to find out. 10,000 lux, they say, equates to a sunny day.

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    There is a theory that when winter comes around, we tend to go into "hibernation," which includes feeling depressed and loss of energy. This is triggered by the seasonal change in availability of light. In turn, the bitter cold of the northern climates tends to drive us indoors.


    Other "light therapy" involves good long walks.


    About 9 months ago, I moved to the San Diego area from the northeast, where the extreme cold and extreme humidity kept me a prisoner inside my apartment for 6 months of the year. In my new rural locale I found myself taking one-hour walks in the sun in the dead of winter every day. Lo and behold, despite the trauma of a marriage break-up, I found that within a month I was feeling better than I ever had in my life.

Published On: September 10, 2007