Professionals identify light therapy as the primary treatment available for Seasonal Affective Disorder for a number of reasons. During winter, the amount of light that the body is exposed to is significantly smaller than in summer months. The amount of light available in an office or other room may be as much as 500 to 1000 times less than that on a bright sunny day. An overcast or wintery day provides only one fourth of the sunlight of summer. That amount of light is hard to replace without the bright, focused spectrum used in light therapy. For those suffering from SAD symptoms, the lack of light is the main problem and this therapy is its most studied and most effective treatment.
The exposure to light therapy helps to trigger the body’s biochemical responses to daylight. These responses help to alleviate several types of depression. Therapists are now exploring the treatment of many other disorders using light therapy. Some of these include non-seasonal depression, post partum depression, obsessive-compulsive disorders, sleep disorders, and jet leg.
Doctors suggest considering light therapy as a response instead of drug treatments that may be expensive and carry unwanted side effects or complications. With proper professional support, the use of bright light therapy for as little as thirty minutes at the beginning of the day may be the very best treatment for SAD.