Using a Lightbox to Fight Seasonal Affective Disorder

Over the years, I’ve used a few different lights to combat seasonal affective disorder, AKA getting depressed during winter because there’s not enough light.

For a while, I used a giant CFL light. I set it up so it was shining just over my desk. It helped!


Charlotte got me a dedicated lightbox, a NatureBright Suntouch Plus light with short fluorescent tubes in it. I’ve got to admit that it is a little better at pushing the blues away, possibly because of my intention (reciting in my head, “I’m turning my light box on now! It’s going to help me!”) possibly because of it’s placement (it sits right on my desk next to my computer, blasting my face). It has a 30 minute timer on it. When I need it, I run it for way longer than 30 minutes, more like 2 hours at a stretch. That lightbox isn’t for sale any more. I’d guess that  the new LED light boxes have replaced it at 1/2 the cost in 1/2 the space.

What is the light good for?

I haven’t had seasonal affective disorder (SAD) this winter yet, though here we are, right at the beginning, it’s not too late for me to need to pull that thing out!  I didn’t need it last winter since I spent all my time sitting in front of my home Zoom studio lighting. I used it 2 winters ago and it totally helped.

What my SAD feels like is a heavy, dark cloud, pushing down, almost literally, on my head and shoulders. I can literally feel it in my face, pushing the sides of my mouth down into a frown, pulling my facial features down, weighing on my neck. I can feel my ideas and emotions being smothered by that dark cloud. One of the worst things is how incessant it can be. Anyone can survive feeling like crap for a day, or even a week. But the damn feeling lingers for months, pulling everything down!

When I turn on my light box to counter SAD, within 3 minutes, I have a subtle, pleasant sense of mania, coupled with a slight, high pitched ringing in my ears. In a few minutes, I get that elated, expanded feeling like an espresso coffee just hit my bloodstream. It’s nice! Heck, I just pointed my desk lamp into my face and, woo hoo! it’s like cheap drugs! I’m exaggerating a little, but… not that much, really! A simple lightbulb really does all that!

When I don’t need a lightbox, it doesn’t do anything to push away the dark cloud of winter. But when I do, it totally works.


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