How to keep the winter blues at bay

Lack of sunlight is a common cause of depression. Around 20% of people experience a drop in their mood in the winter months. Exercise, morning sunlight, therapy, and a lightbox or dawn simulator can help.

Winter depression is caused in part by a change in the body’s biological clock, which sets levels of energy, sleep and appetite. This clock is run by hormones and transmitters in our brain, such as melatonin. Our brains use sunlight to set this clock, and likewise people with winter depression can use artificial sunlight through a lightbox to correct their circadian rhythm.

A light box can work as well as medication for winter depression, but most boxes on the market do not work well.

Choosing a Lightbox

Many companies advertise portable boxes, even ones that fit on a visor, but these are usually too small to be useful. This problem is common when medical products, such as lightboxes, are not regulated by the FDA. Lightboxes also need to be used at specific times to set the biological clock correctly. Our online guide will tell you more about how to purchase and use lightbox.


One Comment

  1. Chris Aiken, MD August 17, 2017 at 11:40 am - Reply

    It’s also a good idea to replace the lightbox’s bulbs every 3 years. Even if they still light up, the therapeutic wavelengths can wear out over time.

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