Why it's done

You may want to try light therapy for a number of reasons:

  • Your doctor recommends it for seasonal affective disorder or another condition.
  • You want to try treatment that is safe and has few side effects.
  • You want to increase the effectiveness of antidepressant medication or mental health counseling (psychotherapy).
  • You need to avoid antidepressant medications during pregnancy or while breast-feeding.
  • It may allow you to take a lower dose of antidepressant medication.

Conditions it's used for

Light therapy is used as a treatment for several conditions, including:

  • SAD
  • Types of depression that don't occur seasonally
  • Jet lag
  • Sleep disorders
  • Adjusting to a nighttime work schedule
  • Dementia

Light therapy used to treat skin conditions such as psoriasis is different from the type of light therapy used for the conditions listed above. Light therapy for skin disorders uses a lamp that emits ultraviolet (UV) light. This type of light should be filtered out in light therapy boxes used for SAD and other conditions because it can damage your eyes and skin.