Winter Blues (SAD)

Dread the dark days of winter?

Seasons can have a profound impact on mood. Consider how you feel during the summer months when the sun is shining in the morning and after you leave work. Now consider driving to work on a cold, dark winter morning. If you don't get out of the office during the day, you may not be exposed to any sunlight. If you're vulnerable to the winter blues, you may experience a shift in mood that affects your ability to thrive.

According to the U.S. National Mental Health Association (2002), up to 25 per cent of North Americans experience some form of winter blues, and at least twice as many women as men develop this condition. Most experience such feelings between the ages of 20 and 40, but even young children may suffer. Approximately 5 per cent of North Americans experience a severe form of winter blues called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is medically recognized as a sub-type of major depression.

 

Do you have the winter blues?

If you get the winter blues, in the fall and winter you may experience:

  • Fatigue

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Irritability

  • Carbohydrate cravings, especially comfort foods like chocolate, bread and pasta

  • Weight gain

  • Social withdrawal

  • Low sex drive

These problems will disappear in the spring and you will feel like your ‘old self’ again until the next fall. Some people find these complaints abate quickly once the days become longer, while others find they gradually dissipate. This pattern typically continues year after year.

 

What can you do to feel better?

Most people who suffer from the winter blues respond well to the regulated bright light therapy provided by The Litebook®. For optimum benefit, daily use is recommended; refer to usage instructions below. If, however, you feel down for long periods during fall and winter, and notice significant changes in your appetite and sleep patterns, you may have a more serious condition and might want to consult a physician.

 

General usage instructions:

  • Position The Litebook® approximately 20 to 24 inches from your face, and offset it to a 30 to 45 degree angle, like sunlight coming in a window. Direct The Litebook's® light beam at your eyes. Your eyes must be open to achieve the benefit.

  • To provide benefit, The Litebook’s® light beam is very bright – like the sun. As with the sun, you do not stare at The Litebook®, although it is not harmful to glance at it occasionally.

  • Typically, you will know when you have received sufficient light. Most feel a sense of heightened alertness, energy, and/or mood.

 

Usage instruction:

  • Light therapy for winter blues usually consists of 15 to 30 minutes of bright light every morning as early as possible upon waking – ideally before 8 AM.

Find a routine that works best with your schedule. You may find it easiest to get your light while eating breakfast, exercising, applying makeup, or while working at the computer. Some people find a second exposure of bright light in the middle of the afternoon gives them an extra boost of energy to make it through the day.

  • The Litebook® should not be used in the evening as it could interfere with your normal sleep time. (Exception: 50+ adults desiring to adjust their early sleep pattern; see Seniors & Sleep

  • Everyone is unique in their light needs; you may have to try different exposure times to find your best level.