Feeling down during the winter may be a fairly common experience, yet for many people, the experience is especially pronounced, seemingly uncontrollable, and potentially debilitating. Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a major concern among much of the world’s population that lives in areas receiving low levels of sunlight during the winter, and clients facing this challenge have traditionally had to choose between psychotherapy and medications, both of which may be effective yet may also be difficult to access. The easy access and simple format of light therapy for the treatment of SADhas been celebrated, and has also recently been gaining support and popularity among professionals and clients alike.
Consisting of a portable unit, light therapy can help some people affected by SAD avoid the impact of low sunlight levels on neurochemistry, and may also receive a boost from the positive aspects of the light itself, even in as little as three days. Of course, some clients report that simply spending time outside during the day –whether to take a walk or engage in another activity– can have the same benefits. But in areas where sunlight may be especially low, or for those on extremely busy schedules, personal light units may prove invaluable.
Further research into the capabilities of light therapy, especially in combination with psychotherapy or medications, is bound to help reveal still more effective ways in which clients can treat and ultimately overcome the symptoms of SAD. As professionals continue to help clients work through feelings of depression, lethargy, and hopelessness during the grayer months, winter may find itself more often appreciated for its beauty and wonder –and its potential to bring happiness and comfort to those previously plagued by winter doldrums.
© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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