Red Light Therapy May Help You Cope With Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Foggy Day Alone

A health Blog by: Glory Lahti

All over the world, people are affected by seasonal depression, also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). As we prepare for the colder months ahead and adjust to daylight savings, it’s important to check on the mental and emotional wellbeing of yourself and loved ones. 

Though it can occur in the summer months, the most common form of SAD occurs in winter when the days are shorter, the weather is cooler and more clouds, rain, snow occurs — and this  upcoming winter is anticipated to be even tougher on those suffering from SAD due to  COVID-19 and safety restrictions and more time spent staying indoors. Typical coping mechanisms like listening to live music concerts, going out with friends, skiing and hanging out in restaurants and bars etc. may be more limited or completely unavailable depending on the COVID spread.

Luckily, implementing red light therapy into your weekly regimen may be the natural remedy that you’ve been looking for. Many Doctors recommend SAD patients self-treat their symptoms with red light therapy to restore vitamin D and receive an energy boost. 

SAD Symptoms

Common symptoms of SAD, as listed from the Mayo Clinic may include: 

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Having low energy
  • Having problems with sleeping
  • Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
  • Feeling sluggish or agitated
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
  • Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide

In addition, the symptoms of winter onset SAD consist of increased appetite, drowsiness, weight gain & lower energy. In contrast, summer onset SAD commonly has the opposite symptoms including: decreased appetite, insomnia, weight loss, & anxiety/agitation

According to the National Institute of Health, the exact cause of SAD is unknown. However, the current theory is a lack of sunlight contributing to low levels of serotonin. This leads to an inability to manage mood changes.

SAD Treatments

Current treatments available include:

  • Light Therapy
  • Vitamin D
  • Psychotherapy 
  • Antidepressants

For the same reason diagnosing SAD is a case-by-case issue; treatment may also vary depending on the individual. Generally, a more natural approach is preferred which includes light therapy and Vitamin D supplements. In general, doctors will recommend light therapy first to see if it helps, and from there, increase the treatment method intensity as needed.

Doctors recommend either a specific brand of white light that filters out UV rays with at least 10,000 lumens, or red light. Most of the studies observing SAD with light therapy treatment, used small handheld devices or light panels concentrated on the upper body.  For instance this study from the National Institute of Health specifically used two types of light (red and white) and concluded that light therapy does in fact help improve symptoms of SAD. There are studies attempting to discern the difference between results in white light versus red light for treating depression but most studies are unable to see a statistical difference measuring different wavelength’s effect on SAD. 

Prism Light Pod’s Benefits

Each study referenced used handheld devices or other similarly targeted modalities to administer the light therapy treatments. Even with these small devices, results were clearly beneficial. However, a whole-body light treatment provides much more light to the entire body, not just a small targeted area. Prism Light Pod is the most powerful whole-body red light therapy device available with 3 specific wavelengths; 630nm, 660nm and 850nm near infrared. With more than 14,000 red LEDs lights that penetrate deeply across the entire body, the light therapy delivers 360 degrees of natural healing for reducing SAD.

In addition to helping with the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a short, 15-minute session in the Prism Light Pod may also provide many health benefits including increased vitamin D levels, boosted immune system, shrinking fat cells for weight loss, reducing inflammation and many more benefits. 

To learn more about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), listen to this 30-minute podcast on YouTube by the Beaumont HouseCall Podcast:
the Seasonal Affective Disorder episode | Beaumont HouseCall Podcast.

To find locations for Prism Light Pod red light therapy or to explore offering Prism light therapy sessions, please contact us or email us at infoprismlightpod@gmail.com

Medical studies referenced in this blog:

NIMH » Seasonal Affective Disorder 

Improvement in Depression Scores After 1 Hour of Light Therapy Treatment in Patients With Seasonal Affective Disorder

Light treatment of mood disorders

Light therapy for seasonal affective disorder in primary care: randomised controlled trial

SAD in the News:

For SAD Sufferers, This Winter Could Be Tougher Than Ever

Nature’s Classroom: Preventing the winter blues

Depression and Addiction

Winter Could Be ‘Double-Whammy’ for Mood Disorders

SAD: Do you have seasonal affective disorder? How to overcome it during the winter months

Resources for common mental illnesses that co-occur with substance abuse 

Enter Your Information Here to Apply to Be a Prism Light Pad Professional Partner