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Hopeful

Light boxes for depression and sleep disorders

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Hopeful   
Hopeful

I posted this in Compsports intro topic, but Sur asked me to re-post in Symptoms topic:

 

 

I’ve had pretty good results with the Phillips Go-lite…I purchased mine in 2004 at Costco (when I thought all I would need to “fix” w/d was a little light lol), but the instructions referenced the web page so you can take their test to tell you when to use the light. I tend to be a “night owl” which I was prior to ssris and am once again. It does seem to work for me getting my circadian rhythms on track. I haven’t used it for awhile though. I was warned by a doctor that they can cause mania…I never had that problem with it.

 

Here is the link in case anyone would like to try the test:

 

http://www.usa.philips.com/c/light-therapy/11625/cat/en/#/cp_tab1

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

Hopeful, what were your symptoms that the light helped?

 

Did it work right away or over time? How long did you use it?

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Gem   
Gem

Good to hear you have had some encouraging results with this Hopeful. I am hoping to get a light box, as I think that my symptoms are worse in Winter.

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Rhiannon   
Rhiannon

I think I said this elsewhere--I have been very happy with my light box. I initially got it to help deal with moving from New Mexico (which is a sunny desert) to a gloomy Oregon winter (much further north), starting a new job, living in a basement for two months--very stressful.

 

I didn't actually need it the following winter (this past winter) because it was a much sunnier winter and I have been living in a house with lots of windows and light. (Sadly I am moving away from this sunny house soon.)

 

But I have found it very helpful for lifting my mood. I have a strong response to it, stronger than to antidepressants, without the side effects, and faster, within a couple of days.

 

I've tried it a little for adjusting sleep cycles when I had to work graveyard shifts one time. I will probably be trying that again in a few weeks when I have another week of graveyard nights.

 

I would be curious to hear if anyone finds it helpful for other kinds of problems.

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compsports   
compsports

I think I said this elsewhere--I have been very happy with my light box. I initially got it to help deal with moving from New Mexico (which is a sunny desert) to a gloomy Oregon winter (much further north), starting a new job, living in a basement for two months--very stressful.

 

I didn't actually need it the following winter (this past winter) because it was a much sunnier winter and I have been living in a house with lots of windows and light. (Sadly I am moving away from this sunny house soon.)

 

But I have found it very helpful for lifting my mood. I have a strong response to it, stronger than to antidepressants, without the side effects, and faster, within a couple of days.

 

I've tried it a little for adjusting sleep cycles when I had to work graveyard shifts one time. I will probably be trying that again in a few weeks when I have another week of graveyard nights.

 

I would be curious to hear if anyone finds it helpful for other kinds of problems.

 

Hopeful and Rhi,

 

I am glad it helped you.

 

Knock on wood - I have had good sleep two nights in a row so perhaps I won't need it.

 

Rhi - That is interesting that it has helped your mood. I could use help in that area. But probably getting work since I am unemployed would be the most helpful solution.

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Hopeful   
Hopeful

Hopeful, what were your symptoms that the light helped?

 

Did it work right away or over time? How long did you use it?

 

 

I tend to be a night owl so I use it occasionally (I haven't for quite awhile now)to get my circadian rhythm back on track and it works.

 

Also, the first month I was off of Paxil I started feeling depressed and it eliminated that within a day or two (very quickly). Not 100% sure it was the light that worked because throughout the w/d my thing was the anxiety which would build and then be followed by a "weepy spell" luckily I never had ongoing depression.

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solida   
solida

hmmm

 

even with light therapy (tried it twice since in withdrawal) I had a paradoxical reaction.I got even more depressed and confused .Hope I can use it later on, because I believe it can be very effective when your symptoms are worse in winter

 

 

solida

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Healing   
Healing

Solida -- I don't know much about light therapy, but I do know we are very sensitive to any kind of therapy -- supplements, exercise, etc. So, next time you decide to try light therapy, it might be worth starting with a very small amount of exposure for awhile and see if that works better. Whenever I decide to increase my exercise, I do it by a very small amount, and that seems to work.

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

Just wanted to note: Light therapy is stimulating. Generally, what people with withdrawal need is a reduction of stimulation, not an increase. Light therapy may exacerbate withdrawal symptoms like anxiety and sleeplessness.

 

It's effective for very specific forms of depression or sleep problems related to the circadian rhythm being out of synchronization. Our systems depend on light to set our internal clocks.

 

It's not going to help everyone with depression or sleep problems. If withdrawal has made you at all light-sensitive, light therapy is probably not a good idea for you.

 

Most of us with withdrawal insomnia need to trigger melatonin at night with more darkness rather than more light.

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

Light therapy is just as effective as antidepressants and has far fewer side effects.

 

A Portable Glow to Help Melt Those Winter Blues

By RONI CARYN RABIN November 14, 2011 NYTimes.com

 

....

For the millions of Americans who suffer from mild to severe winter blues — a condition called seasonal affective disorder, or S.A.D. — bright-light therapy is the treatment of choice, with response rates comparable with those of antidepressants. “Your natural clock is usually longer than 24 hours, and you need light in the morning to set it and keep it on track,” said Dr. Alfred Lewy, a professor of psychiatry at Oregon Health and Science University and an expert on seasonal depression and light therapy.

 

Yet many experts think light therapy is underused, given its affordability and relative lack of side effects, in large part because there is little profit to be made from it and no commercial incentive to promote the treatment.

 

Patients generally sit in front of the light box, which can be as small as 9 by 11 inches and 5 inches deep, with the bright light emanating from the square surface, in the morning. “With the natural dawn being later in winter, the body rhythms drift late,” Dr. Lewy said. “If you can fix the drift, you can fix the depression.”

 

Light therapy may even help with major nonseasonal depression, experts say, and with sleep disorders. And because it has few side effects, researchers are studying whether light therapy can help with depression during pregnancy and be used to treat elderly people with dementia. It is also being investigated for the treatment of bulimia nervosa, severe premenstrual syndrome and even attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and bipolar disorder.

 

Though randomized controlled clinical trials of bright light are difficult to do properly — one expert is fond of saying that it is difficult to “blind” studies of bright light — the American Psychiatric Association considers bright-light therapy an effective low-risk treatment for both S.A.D. and nonseasonal major depressive disorder.

 

A 2006 multicenter double-blind randomized controlled trial that compared bright-light therapy head to head with the popular antidepressant Prozac (fluoxetine) in 96 subjects found the two treatments equally effective for alleviating winter depression, though light produced results faster, usually within a week, and with fewer side effects.

 

Why, then, do so few doctors prescribe bright-light therapy? Some say their patients don’t have the patience to sit in front of a light for 30 to 45 minutes every morning. Moreover, “doctors are just more comfortable prescribing medication, because that’s what they do for everything,” Dr. Lewy said.

 

Some patients who suffer from chronic depression say they use light therapy in addition to their regular medication in the winter months.

 

“I’ve always seen a drastic change in my personality from spring and summer to fall and winter, and it got worse as I got older,” said Rick Bach, 54, a painter who owns a hair salon in West Hartford, Conn., and tries to spend every January in Puerto Rico.

 

But while bright-light treatment is helpful, he said, it is not sufficient for him. “It can help you from falling into a deep depression, but it won’t help you climb out of one,” he said.

 

No one knows exactly how light treatment works, but most experts seem to agree that the body has a master biological clock that responds to or is “set” by natural light fluctuations.

 

“Light does more than just enable us to see,” said Dr. Norman Rosenthal, author of the landmark book “Winter Blues,” who was among the first to identify and describe S.A.D. Light also has an effect on hormones, the body’s chemical messengers, affecting the brain’s hypothalamus, which is involved in regulating mood, energy and appetite.

 

“The hormone melatonin, which is secreted at night, can be suppressed by light,” Dr. Rosenthal said....

 

But while part of the appeal of light therapy is that it can be self-prescribed, using a light box is not as simple as it may appear. Experts recommend consulting with a knowledgeable health care provider before starting treatment to rule out other medical conditions and to help with monitoring and adjusting bright-light exposure.

 

Some patients may want to try simply getting more natural light to help with seasonal mood changes — getting out as much as possible during the brightest time of day in the winter, sitting near windows during the day or taking vacations to sunny locales in the winter.

 

If you choose to try light therapy, here are a few tips from experts.

 

COSTS Light boxes can be purchased for about $200 online; they are also available for rent. Some patients manage to get insurance reimbursement by having a doctor write a letter, but don’t count on your policy covering it.

 

PRECAUTIONS Side effects include headaches and hypomania, though experts say these are rare. Face the light but do not stare at the light. If you have an eye condition of any kind, clear light therapy with your ophthalmologist first.

 

MORE INFORMATION Check the Web sites of the Society for Light Therapy and Biological Rhythms at www.sltbr.org and Center for Environmental Therapeutics at www.cet.org.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/15/health/policy/light-boxes-may-help-melt-those-winter-blues.html

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strawberry17   
strawberry17

My husband swears by a light box in the winter, we also have a sunrise alarm clock in our bedroom.

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

Incorporating the light box effect into an alarm clock always made sense to me.

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strawberry17   
strawberry17

My husband used to commute to London and had to be up at 5.30 every morning, and he suffers a little from SAD, so this was really helpful, he no longer has to commute but it's still great in the winter. In his office he has a lightbox which in the winter months he works beside for a couple of hours every day.

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compsports   
compsports

As you can see in my intro update, I have decided to purchase one. Hopefully, this will give me the energy to overcome falling asleep too early which messes up my sleep cycle.

 

Even when I can stay awake, I still go to bed way too early which results in waking up too early which again starts the bad cycle.

 

Strawberry, I am glad it helped your husband. I will keep everyone posted.

 

CS

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Rhiannon   
Rhiannon

I'm a big fan of light boxes. They help me regulate my sleep cycle, since I work nights. I got them when I moved to Oregon thinking I would be dealing with dreary winters, but it turns out that's only a problem west of the Cascades; where I live we get lots of winter sun. But the light boxes seem to really help me regulate my sleep cycles in spite of my weird work hours. Plus whenever I feel an inkling of depression, light therapy and exercise together knock it out immediately. I really think doctors need to know about this. But the light box companies don't have the huge marketing budgets that Big Pharma can muster. GRRRRRRRRRR

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lionboy   
lionboy

does anyone have experience of using sad lights?

i looked at a blue one recently and it seemed quite appealing.

on the sad org website they say check with a doctor before using one if on ad's.

since the doctors seem to know very little about ad's and their effects i thought i would post here to see if anyone has any first hand experience ?

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Zepplin2011   
Zepplin2011

I did light therapy for about 5 sessions using a green one. It pulsated and I had to stare at it for about 30 min. Made me feel somewhat better. I think if you use them long enough you can get some good benefits.

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

We have a couple of topics here about blue light. They're very interesting.

 

For people who are sensitive, it doesn't take much exposure to SAD lights to get a response. Five minutes can be enough.

 

However, if you are already experiencing sensory hyper-reactivity, intense light could make you worse.

 

You cannot treat withdrawal symptoms as though they were Seasonal Affective Disorder or any other kind of mood disorder.

 

lionboy, do you ordinarily get very sad in the wintertime, when there's less natural light?

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brighteningup   
brighteningup

I have a 'daylight' bulb in my kitchen where I work. It cost only a little more than a normal bulb.

 

This is not a full light box but just a bulb that has a more natural daylight tinge (more bluish than yellow).

 

Really seems to help though.

 

Seem to be getting about 4 hours of daylight here at the minute (not really true) but the sun is low in the sky and it's often overcast ...I often need to keep the lights on all day - roll-on spring and longer days...

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

That's an excellent idea, bright. You can have a little dose of light with breakfast.

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Jemima   
Jemima

Here's a blog post by one of the pioneers in Post Peak Oil preparation that I found very helpful:

 

http://sharonastyk.com/2011/11/27/on-the-merits-of-sleep/

 

There is also a phenomena called 'second sleep' that I find fascinating. Here's a starter site:

 

http://althouse.blogspot.com/2006/02/thats-not-insomnia-thats-natural-sleep.html

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

Both of those posts contain good information. Thanks, Jemima.

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Nadia   
Nadia

That's really interesting about first and second sleep! I had never heard of that!

 

On a side note, a friend who has a fourth month old baby was asking other friends for advice because her baby had gone from sleeping really well through the night to frequent waking. Several other parents told her this was normal and occurs at certain points in a baby and child's development, especially before a growth spurt or during mental development.

 

Aside from cortisol surges, it could be that we are going through something similar in withdrawal... our brains are adapting and that is hard work. There are tons of things going on, and it makes sense that our sleep cycles will be irregular because of it. I have no scientific evidence for this, of course.

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Barbarannamated   
Barbarannamated

Any thoughts on Himalayan Salt Lamps

I love the warm glow but no idea about the negative ionization claims

Dr Oz suggested red light bulbs in bedroom (avoiding violet end of spectrum) for before sleep and I had the orange lamp already so thought I'd mention

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compsports   
compsports

Well, I am only 3 months late in following up on what I said I would do in purchasing a light box. LOL.

 

I started using it last night and following the start low, go slow approach. In spite of having it on for just a few minutes at the lowest setting, my mood and energy have greatly improved. Could be a placebo effect but to be honest, I wasn't expecting that result.

 

Am extremely optimistic it will help reset my body clock off of what I feel is a current advanced phase syndrome issue in which I go to bed too early and thus wake up too early.

 

CS

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

For those who are interested in such things, Amazon has the Philips goLite BLU on sale today ONLY about half off, for $91.99.

 

I have no idea of the quality of this device. Please research it before you purchase.

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gruvedaddy   
gruvedaddy

I have a light box called "Lighten up". It has 3 36 watt PL type fluorescent bulbs. I'm sitting in front of it at the moment, feels good on this cold winter day. :D It's about 12 years or so old, so i'm doing some research now to see it this type of light is still considered effective. I'll be honest and say that i have never really given it too much of a chance to do it's job, only when i'd exercise i'd have it on for about 40 minutes. However, the way my treadmill and exercise mats are situated the light box sits about 15 feet away from me. So i guess i'm wondering if that had an impact on the effectiveness of using it. But the more i read, it seems it's better to have the light relatively close to the eyes.

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compsports   
compsports

I think I got too overzealous and ended up with an optical migraine yesterday. It was scary as I was envisioning eye damage but fortunately, it disappeared.

 

As with supplements, start low and go slow.

 

CS

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

Yes, I think someone else here reported light therapy can be too much stimulation.

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areyouthere   
areyouthere

However, the way my treadmill and exercise mats are situated the light box sits about 15 feet away from me. So i guess i'm wondering if that had an impact on the effectiveness of using it. But the more i read, it seems it's better to have the light relatively close to the eyes.

 

I've done quite a little research and experimenting with a light box. It's pretty well accepted that 10,000 lumens within 18" or closer is necessary. That's pretty bright ... I usually do something in front of it looking down...like reading the paper..... it works.

 

I can confirm the positive effects of using a light box. .... for ME. In the past, before I ever started to "listen to my body" I recognized a YEARLY pattern. If I was going to have a "bad" spell it was going to be in NOVEMBER which in the N. latitudes we lose the lost the most light/ day than any other month.

 

I bought one back in the 90s. Used it religiously. ONE year I did not use it... you guessed it. A downer Nov.

 

Unfortunately a couple of yrs. ago my P doc upped my dose of Wellbutrin which eliminated he need of the light box....

 

I plan on dropping that dose back to 150 mg. and leaving it there for the rest of my life ( it counter acts sexual side effects) along with staying on 10 mg. Lex. That means of course that I will go back to the light box but no prob.

 

Worked for me!! Oh. AND before I understood the power of it, I used it one week in the afternoon.... woke me up in the middle of the night... good MORNING!!!!

 

RU

 

 

ps. As far as staying on the lex./ well forever, I may re evaluate that at some point. I am concentrating on just LOWERING things ... s l o w l y.

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

Mileage undoubtedly varies.

 

People who are already sensitized by withdrawal or other adverse effects of psychiatric drugs may find the stimulation from a light box is too much for them.

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Francis   
Francis

Does anyone have experience using the light box to help push back waking? I have read on a few sites that using the light box in the evening can help push back the circadian rhythm is you are getting tired too early and waking up too early... now Im not sure if tis can combat issues with cortisol surges in the morning... but I thought I would give it a try... it hasnt worked yet but Im not sure if Ive been consistent enough or if Ive been doing it at the right time.

I also find it rather difficult to fit in all of these "treatments" in the evening (epsom salt foot soak, light box, many supplements) and still manage to get to bed early enough to be able to function the next day (since I wake up close to 4am every morning unfortunately)

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Sweetcreature   
Sweetcreature

Do these work in lifting mood? Has anyone used them successfully?

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mammaP   
mammaP

I wouldn't be without mine, I don't think I would get through a winter without it and have used one for years.  :)

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MissSerene   
MissSerene

Any particular brand recommended and affordable?

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mammaP   
mammaP

Mine is this one, it's new and feels very light and flimsy but does it's job and is small. It's also a clock. 

 

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/SRS320-Dawn-Simulator-and-Light-Therapy-Product-/380175946592?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5884409360

 

Not sure it's worth all that money though, I'm sure a cheaper model will be just as effective. I like the portability, it will fit in my suitcase when I visit my daughter.

My old one was a very heavy bulky wood box with the light inside it, I still have it for working at my sewing machine but don't use it as a sun lamp any more. 

Is this the kind you meant? Or did you mean the kind that helps skin conditions? I don't know anything about those.

There is a thread on light boxes here. 

 

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/1470-light-boxes-for-depression-and-sleep-disorders/?hl=%2Blight+%2Btherapy

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