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Seeing the Light: Therapy Lamps Available at Health Services

By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
November 14, 2007

For many people, the change of seasons brings a change of mood that’s more than just hating that it gets dark so early. It’s a feeling that can last all winter long.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) typically sets in during the early winter months and continues until spring. Research has shown that bright light therapy can make a difference so again this year Health Services is offering the therapy sessions to anyone in the university community affected by the ailment.

The light from the therapy lamps is measured in lux, which rates the intensity of light; most lamps produce between 2,500 and 10,000 lux. To be effective, a lamp should provide no less than 10,000 lux.

Treatment is simple: all users have to do is sit in front of a lamp, or light box, with their eyes open. They can read, write, study or simply sit there and enjoy the light. Sessions can last anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours; exposure is built up over time, leveling off to an average of 30 minutes.

Health care providers will help determine the most effective time for each individual.

Symptoms of SAD can be mild to severe. Some people report feeling lethargic rather than depressed. Also known as winter depression, SAD can cause such feelings as anxiety, hopelessness, a loss of energy and interest in everyday activities, difficulty concentrating and depression.

According to the information on Health Services Web site, studies have shown that about 75 percent of the people who use light therapy notice an improvement in the way they feel within a few weeks or even days.

Medical experts suggest light therapy be used in conjunction with other practices, including walking outdoors and exercising under bright lights.

For more information go to http://www.unh.edu/health-services/ohep/sad-lighttherapy_sad.html. To make an appointment with a health care provider to see if you have SAD, call 2-3823.

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