Question for Betty.

Does the Student Health and Counseling Center offer Sad lights?  Any recommendations?

Betty's Answer.

Congratulations on thinking ahead to our Alaskan fall and winter months with reduced light. If you have experienced symptoms of depression during these months in the past, it is a great idea to plan ahead. If you are currently having symptoms of depression, I encourage you to see your health care provider for a health assessment, as you may have other causes for your symptoms.  Altlhough the Student Health and Counseling Center does not offer SAD lights, I can offer suggestions on purchasing a SAD light.  

SAD or seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that generally occurs each year during fall and winter.  A light therapy box is a proven seasonal affective disorder treatment, which may be effective on its own, or combined with another treatment such as mental health counseling or antidepressant medication. Also found to be helpful are daily outdoor exercise and Vitamin D supplementation.  

You can buy a light box over-the-counter, without a prescriptions.  Internet retailers, drugstores and hardware stores offer a variey of light boxes.  The light boxes differ in types and intensities of light.  Research on light boxes is still limited, so it can be a challenge to sort out which ones are safest.

Check that the light box is made specifically to treat SAD.  Some lights are designed for skin disorders, and emit ultraviolet (UV) light that could damage your eyes if used incorrectly.  Look for a light box that emits as little UV light as possible at high intensity.

Some lights are brighter than others.  Look for a light box that provides the right intensity at a comfortable distance away.  You can use a light box that produces 10,000 lux at 12 to 14 inches from you for 30 minutes each morning.  A box that produces 2,500 lux, at the same distance may take two hours for the same effect.  A box that uses LED lights can produce a more efficient and lighter weight box. Newer blue lights, may be an option, however, they may have a greater risk for harming your eyes.

For further information, contact your health care provider, or the Student Health and Counseling Center for an appointment, and further discussion of SAD.