Seasonal affective disorder treatment: Choosing a light therapy box

Light therapy boxes can offer an effective treatment for seasonal affective disorder. Features such as light intensity, safety, cost and style are important considerations.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that typically occurs each year during fall and winter. Use of a light therapy box can offer relief. But for some people, light therapy may be more effective when combined with another SAD treatment, such as an antidepressant or psychological counseling (psychotherapy).

Light therapy boxes for SAD treatment are also known as light boxes, bright light therapy boxes and phototherapy boxes. All light therapy boxes for SAD treatment are designed do the same thing, but one may work better for you than another.

Talk with your doctor first

It's best to talk with your health care provider about choosing and using a light therapy box. If you're experiencing both SAD and bipolar disorder, the advisability and timing of using a light box should be carefully reviewed with your doctor. Increasing exposure too fast or using the light box for too long each time may induce manic symptoms if you have bipolar disorder.

If you have past or current eye problems such as glaucoma, cataracts or eye damage from diabetes, get advice from your eye doctor before starting light therapy.

March 16, 2016 See more In-depth