Is it worth getting a SAD therapy lamp for winter?


As I write this I’m sitting outside in a cafe in Tel Aviv. It’s only 5pm but it’s already dark and it has been raining on and off all week. It’s also cold. Obviously not NYC freezing cold – as I said I’m sitting outside – but still cold! I always feel down this time of year and it’s why I make an effort to spend as much time as I can outside of NYC. The winter blues are not uncommon. In fact SAD – aka Seasonal Affective Disorder –  is an actual thing in the medical community and it’s defined as “seasonal pattern of recurrent major depressive episodes most commonly occurring in autumn or winter and remitting in spring/summer.” Its causes remain unclear, but there are a number of theories relating mostly to shorter days and longer nights which have effects on our various hormones. I’m sure that’s partly true, it’s no fun to be sitting here in the dark at 5pm, but for me personally I think the sadness has more to do with the cold and rain/snow. Interesting, when I spoke with experts about this none of them said that there are any widly held theories about cold/weather causing SAD.

When it’s cold and dreary out all I want to do is eat chocolate chip cookies, pastries, and other carbs. I also don’t want to leave my apartment or socialize that much, which together causes a serious drop in mood. Nevertheless after speaking with doctors for a story I was working on about combating the blues, I figured I’d try a SAD therapy lamp. So many people swear by them and all the experts agreed that they’re the best way to boost mood during winter along with scheduling fun activities and staying active/eating healthfully (easier said than done! Especially because, as I said, this time of year all I want is cookies, cookies, cookies…).

The idea is that these lamps emit a light that simulates sunlight thereby encouraging the brain to produce less of the sleepy hormone melatonin and more of the positive mood hormone serotonin. I’ve been using a lamp for two-plus weeks and I’ve noticed nothing. Literally nothing. Not only that the lamp is taking up precious desk space. I’d be curious to know if the lamp has helped anybody – please share in comments! Personally, I’m trying my best to cut out simple carbs and sugary treats in an attempt to boost my mood but it’s sooo hard!

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