Light therapy probably won't cure seasonal affective disorder, nonseasonal depression or other conditions. But it may ease symptoms, increase your energy levels, and help you feel better about yourself and life.
Light therapy can start to improve symptoms within just a few days. In some cases, though, it can take two or more weeks.
Getting the most out of light therapy
Light therapy isn't effective for everyone. But you can take steps to get the most out of your light therapy and help make it a success.
- Get the right light box. Do some research and talk to your doctor before buying a light therapy box. That way you can be sure your light box is safe, the proper brightness, the right kind of light, and that its style and features make it convenient to use.
- Be consistent. Stick to a daily routine of light therapy sessions to help ensure that you maintain improvements over time. If you simply can't do light therapy every day, take a day or two off, but monitor your mood and other symptoms — you may have to find a way to fit in light therapy every day.
- Track the timing. If you interrupt light therapy during the winter months or stop too soon in the spring when you're improving, your symptoms could return. Keep track of when you start light box therapy in the fall and when you stop in the spring so you know when to start and end your light therapy the following year.
- Include other treatment. If your symptoms don't improve enough with light therapy, you may need additional treatment. Talk to your doctor about other treatment options, such as antidepressants or psychotherapy.