Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue


Light Therapy: Some Instructions

posted by Beyond Blue

Also from “Getting Relief From Light Therapy” in the Fall 2007 Johns Hopkins Depression and Anxiety Bulletin:

Bright-light therapy involves sitting in front of a bank of full-spectrum fluorescent lights for 30-60 minutes each day. To be maximally effective, the light should come from a fluorescent light box that delivers an intensity of 10,000 lux. It is important to position the light box according to your doctor’s (or the manufacturer’s) instructions and to use it the same time each day as consistently as possible. Optimally, bright-light therapy should be used as soon as possible upon awakening and before 10 a.m.

You should really take that last line seriously. In true nutjob fashion, I thought to myself upon receiving my mammoth (largest size available) HappyLite: “If a little bit of light makes you feel good, then a whole lot of light will make you feel even better.” It was the one-case-of-beer-is-better-than-a-six-pack-as-long-as-I-don’t-puke mentality that usually gets me into a bit of trouble.
The night after I got my HappyLite, Eric was away on a golf trip. He would be getting home late, after midnight.
“Perfect!” I thought. “I’ll put the kids to bed, and work under my HappyLite until he gets home.”


I came to the door at 12:30 a.m. my eyes popping out of their sockets as if I had just smoked a crack pipe (not that I know what it looks like …). I lay awake the entire night cursing my HappyLite.
Next doctor’s visit, I told my doctor about my three-hour introduction to light-therapy.
She laughed. “No more than a half-hour at a time, and preferably early in the morning.”
Back to Swartz, the light therapy expert:

Many people respond rapidly to light therapy. Improvement can often be seen within two to four days, with symptoms disappearing within two to three weeks. Continued light therapy throughout the winter season is needed to prevent a relapse, however. If that isn’t feasible, there is some evidence suggesting that relapse can be prevented with the addition of an antidepressant drug after a course of light therapy.
Light therapy should be used only with your doctor’s guidance, as it can cause side effects when used improperly. If you are unable to tolerate the treatment due to agitation, headache, or nausea, your doctor can help you reduce the intensity of the treatment by increasing the distance from the light box or changing the duration of therapy.



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Lynne

posted November 1, 2007 at 5:11 pm


I like the “happy-lite” idea. It would sure come in handy durring our not-so-sunshine-state tropical type weather. It’s a real bummer when we have a week’s worth of overcast and rainy days. 2004 was particularly interesting. Then we were deemed the “Plywood State”…”Blue Roof” and led to new terms like “generator envy” and “gas-line rage”. It gave new meaning to “tropical depression”! Seems that winter is’nt the only exasperating time of year. However I still would’nt trade it in a New York Minute!!!



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Frank

posted November 2, 2007 at 8:21 am


I came to the door at 12:30 a.m. my eyes popping out of their sockets as if I had just smoked a crack pipe – Therese, I had a wonderful (terrible) mental image of your experience. I visualized and laughed like a crazy man! It was hilarious – but sorry for your experience. I understand SAD because I see it in myself and my 20-year old stepson. He is even affected by rainy, overcast days – not just the seasons. For
myself, it is like countering depression with activity. If I’ll get outside, even though it’s cold or rainy or gloomy – the mere act of ‘going’ and ‘doing’ somehow is a tonic. As we know from experience, the lethargy and inertia that we have to overcome is a major effort – but that first step really is the most difficult.
I’m doing better. It’s dark outside – and I don’t particularly even like the night because of its ability to invoke sadness, but I’m not in bed or blended into my favorite chair. I’m upright! Anyhow, I’m thinking of getting one of those lights and testing it out.
I’m thinking red right now instead of blue.
Frank,



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Tracey

posted November 2, 2007 at 12:59 pm


Again, thanks for the crack pipe image! I might have forgotten your warning if you hadn’t provided the SCARY picture. Ever the perfectionist (not with alcohol, however), I would definitely have gone three hours over a little baby half hour. Nice to get advice that a friend would give, vs a black and white ‘warning’ or ‘side effect’ message, mucho thanks.



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Margaret Balyeat

posted November 2, 2007 at 5:02 pm


Like everyone else, Therese, I had a great (awful) visual image of your greeting for your returning husband! You write so well that the pictures you create are tatamount to being there! Your metaphor to having smoked a pipe of crack was priceless! Unfortunately, because i live in an urban are where crack is frequently the drug of choice, I DO know what it looks like, and it ain’t pretty!(so much for the ‘totalwoman’ warning about always greeting your hubby at the door looking your best, huh? (Not that I ever took a lot of that stuff seriously anyway!)There are extremes to EVERY doctrine, right? I’m glad you got the light therapy directions straightened out, but I’m interested to know, since we seem so in tune with each other, if you finally received some benefir from your “Happy Lite”



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Douglas Cootey

posted November 3, 2007 at 8:12 am


But Therese! Does it work? Or are you still hopped up on light all night? :)



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Allen Anderson

posted July 30, 2009 at 11:06 pm


Your metaphor to having smoked a pipe of crack was priceless! Unfortunately, because i live in an urban are where crack is frequently the drug of choice, I DO know what it looks like, and it ain’t pretty!(so much for the ‘totalwoman’ warning about always greeting your hubby at the door looking your best, huh? (Not that I ever took a lot of that stuff seriously anyway!)There are extremes to EVERY doctrine, right? I’m glad you got the light therapy directions straightened out, but I’m interested to know, since we seem so in tune with each other, if you finally received some benefir from your “Happy Lite”



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Ben Dicosta

posted June 30, 2010 at 5:29 am


Depression, insomnia and fatigue may result from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – also called the “winter blues” – and is commonly treated with light therapy to increase exposure to bright and full-spectrum light, thereby curing the symptoms.



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