5 Tricks to Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder
Why it might not work: Rohan says it can be very tricky to figure out your personalized dosage—i.e., how much light you need, when you need it and how long you need it for. She's heard of patients putting the box on top of their entertainment center in the living room, which is too far away to be effective, or putting it on too early, which can throw off their internal clocks. Side effects can also include headaches, eye strain and agitation. In the worst-case scenario, Rohan says that used incorrectly, light therapy could increase the risk of hypomania in patients with a vulnerability to bipolar disorder.
What to try instead: Even though you can buy a light box without a prescription, think of it as a type of antidepressant. That is, something you'd only use after consulting a mental health provider. It's worth the effort to get it right: A persuasive number of clinical trials show that light therapy (daily exposure to bright artificial light during your low months) is effective for SAD, and between 50 and 80 percent of those who have tried it report complete remission of symptoms.