If you love wearing cozy sweaters, sipping on comforting hot beverages, and planning the ultimate hygge fest at home, winter is a welcome change. But if the shorter days and colder nights are getting you down, it might be seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression marked by mood changes that usually occur during the fall and winter.
“SAD is often also described as the equivalent of hibernation, because you’ll want to lie in bed and go to sleep, and won’t have much desire to be around other people,” adds Luis Fernandez, MD, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston.
When you’re not getting the usual amount of daylight you’re used to, it can send your body into a funk. But with a proper diagnosis, many people who suffer from SAD can benefit from light therapy by using happy lights.
- What are happy lights?
- Do happy lights produce vitamin D?
- How to use happy lights for seasonal affective disorder
- Where to buy happy lights
- Treatment – Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
- Light therapy
- 8 best SAD lamps to get you through the dark winter months
- Philips EnergyUp light: £150, Philips
- Lumie Bodyclock Shine 300: £129, Lumie
- Beurer TL100 light: £150, Currys
- Lumie Brazil SAD light: £149, Amazon
- Diamond 5 SAD lightbox: £292, SAD UK
- Lumie desklamp: £120, Lumie
- Lumie Vitamin L SAD light: £75, Lumie
- Beurer TL30 ultra portable daylight: £59.99, John Lewis & Partners
- The verdict: SAD lamps
- This $80 lamp has helped me cope with the winter blues at home by emitting light that mimics the sun
- In Short
- Product Information
- So How Does the Verilux 2500 Compact Work?
- The Good
- The Bad
- The Beautiful
- And Does It Work?
- Product review: Verilux HappyLight Energy Lamp 5000
- Do Happy Lights Really Work for Seasonal Depression?
- Do SAD lamps actually work?
- I tried a lamp that’s supposed to make you feel happy in the winter, but I didn’t notice any change
- Light Quality
- Time Convenience
- The Recap
- This Is the Light Therapy Lamp Amazon Shoppers Swear By to Combat Seasonal Affective Disorder
What are happy lights?
Happy lights, also known as light therapy lamps, happy lamps, and SAD lights, give you additional exposure to light when there’s less sun in the fall and winter months. But before you purchase one of these devices, be sure to see a psychiatrist to determine the right SAD treatment for you.
“It’s very important to first receive an evaluation from a medical professional such as a psychiatrist who can direct your treatment, because if you’re incorrect and it’s not SAD but rather bipolar disorder, light therapy can make you manic, which is dangerous,” says Gail Saltz, MD, an associate professor of psychiatry at the New York Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell School of Medicine and a psychoanalyst with the New York Psychoanalytic Institute. “You’ll want to be followed for some period of time initially, but if light therapy goes fine, then you can eventually continue on with this treatment without medical visits being necessary,” she notes.
Dr. Saltz says happy lights are used in conjunction with other medications and psychotherapy. Happy lights for SAD can be expensive initially, with many costing upwards $100, but oftentimes your insurance may cover it.
“Light therapy can be a very effective and inexpensive treatment when you compare it to the costs of medication and the effects such as decreased productivity and sick days being taken,” Dr. Fernandez says. “Many use LED or blue lighting, which can help shut off excessive production of melatonin during the day.”
Do happy lights produce vitamin D?
Happy lights don’t provide vitamin D as natural sunlight does because it has a very narrow grouping of UVB lights. If you suspect you have a vitamin D deficiency due to limited sun exposure, Dr. Fernandez advises talking to your doctor about possibly taking a supplement.
How to use happy lights for seasonal affective disorder
It’s key to begin light therapy as soon as the days get shorter in late autumn to prevent depressive symptoms from showing up several weeks later, Dr. Saltz says.
Dr. Saltz says light therapy is most effective in the morning, using a happy light for 10 to 15 minutes at a time, eventually increasing it to 30 minutes. You’ll want to position the light box one to two feet in front of your face. However, do not stare into the light. Instead, do something with the lamp on, like reading a book or applying makeup. Dr. Saltz recommends continuing the treatment for the entire season, until the amount of daylight increases as spring arrives.
The side effects from light therapy tend to be minimal, with some people reporting headaches or feeling overly energized. This is why experts recommend using it in the morning, as they can affect your circadian rhythm and make it difficult to sleep at night.
Where to buy happy lights
You can buy happy lights online or the nearest home goods store, but you want to be careful with what you buy. “There are a lot of things marketed as light boxes that actually aren’t light therapy, so don’t just buy any old light box,” Dr. Saltz says. “Light boxes for SAD will contain a specific grouping of UVB white lights that shine at a very high intensity.” The Mayo Clinic recommends choosing 10,000-lux light boxes—lux being the amount of light you receive—and ones that are designed to emit as little UV light as possible. Dr. Saltz recommends light therapy lamps from Northern Lights Technologies and The SunBox Company.
Northern Light Technologies Light Box amazon.com $142.25 Verilux Happy Light amazon.com $78.00 Northern Light Technologies Luxor Mini Light Box amazon.com $90.70 NatureBright SunTouch Light Therapy Lamp amazon.com $36.99
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
Some people with SAD find that light therapy can help improve their mood considerably. This involves sitting by a special lamp called a light box, usually for around 30 minutes to an hour each morning.
Light boxes come in a variety of designs, including desk lamps and wall-mounted fixtures. They produce a very bright light. The intensity of the light is measured in lux – the higher lux, the brighter the light.
Dawn-stimulating alarm clocks, which gradually light up your bedroom as you wake up, may also be useful for some people.
The light produced by the light box simulates the sunlight that’s missing during the darker winter months.
It’s thought the light may improve SAD by encouraging your brain to reduce the production of melatonin (a hormone that makes you sleepy) and increase the production of serotonin (a hormone that affects your mood).
Who can use light therapy?
Most people can use light therapy safely. The recommended light boxes have filters that remove harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays, so there’s no risk of skin or eye damage for most people.
However, exposure to very bright light may not be suitable if you:
- have an eye condition or eye damage that makes your eyes particularly sensitive to light
- are taking medication that increases your sensitivity to light, such as certain antibiotics and antipsychotics, or the herbal supplement St. John’s Wort
Speak to your GP if you’re unsure about the suitability of a particular product.
Trying light therapy
Light boxes aren’t usually available on the NHS, so you’ll need to buy one yourself if you want to try light therapy.
Before using a light box, you should check the manufacturer’s information and instructions regarding:
- whether the product is suitable for treating SAD
- the light intensity you should be using
- the recommended length of time you need to use the light
Make sure that you choose a light box that is medically approved for the treatment of SAD and produced by a fully certified manufacturer.
Does light therapy work?
There’s mixed evidence regarding the overall effectiveness of light therapy, but some studies have concluded it is effective, particularly if used first thing in the morning.
It’s thought that light therapy is best for producing short-term results. This means it may help relieve your symptoms when they occur, but you might still be affected by SAD next winter.
When light therapy has been found to help, most people noticed an improvement in their symptoms within a week or so.
Side effects of light therapy
It’s rare for people using light therapy to have side effects. However, some people may experience:
- agitation or irritability
- headaches or eye strain
- sleeping problems (avoiding light therapy during the evening may help prevent this)
- blurred vision
These side effects are usually mild and short-lived, but you should visit your GP if you experience any particularly troublesome side effects while using light therapy.
8 best SAD lamps to get you through the dark winter months
SAD stands for seasonal affective disorder, and SAD lamps are designed as a form of light therapy to help alleviate things.
The bright light in the SAD lamp hits the retina and sends nerve signals to the brain, affecting the chemical and hormone levels. In turn, this improves the mood of the sufferer.
To qualify as a SAD lamp it needs to have a brightness of at least 2,500 lux, though many are much more powerful than that, often 10,000 lux.
A brighter light means greater effectiveness in a shorter time – between half an hour and an hour a day is recommended.
A SAD light needs to be medically certified for treating the disorder.
Some are lightweight and portable, others can sit on your desk.
Since the light needs to fall on both your eyes, positioning the light correctly is important.
One brand dominates this category, Lumie, which not only makes SAD lamps but also alarm clocks that wake you with light and even, as you’ll see on the company’s website, a cute nightlight for children.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
Philips EnergyUp light: £150, Philips
Brightness: 10,000 lux equivalent
This energy lamp uses blue light, not white, aiming to give an effect similar to a sunny day, but without UV rays. Because it’s blue light, the lux level is lower than some here but described as being the equivalent of 10,000 lux. It’s simple to use – one big power button on the front – and the diffusers and filters mean there’s a completely even light distribution. Philip says 20-30 minutes a day is enough to revitalise the user.
Lumie Bodyclock Shine 300: £129, Lumie
Brightness: not applicable
This light promotes therapeutic benefits in a different way: it is designed to wake you up with light. As such, the lux levels are lower than on the pure SAD lamps here. It’s claimed that light at the beginning of the day can effectively reset your internal clock and metabolism, allowing you to wake up refreshed. It wakes you up with an artificial sunrise which can last anywhere between 15 and 90 minutes. You can also use the light to wind down at the end of the day with a sunset feature. You can add sounds to help you wake up or fall asleep, too. Lumie describes this as a complement to a lightbox for treating SAD, rather than an alternative.
Beurer TL100 light: £150, Currys
Brightness: 10,000 lux
The Beurer takes a little more setting up than some here but is easy to use. As well as bright white light, the TL100 can change through hundreds of colours to work as a relaxing mood light – this is one of the features which is controlled by an app on a smartphone. The brightness is also adjustable to 10 different levels and preferred settings can be stored. Timers automatically turn off the light at set intervals from 15 minutes to two hours.
Lumie Brazil SAD light: £149, Amazon
Brightness: 10,000 lux
The Brazil is large, standing 50cm tall, with three big broad-spectrum bulbs inside. It’s the largest SAD light that Lumie makes. Treatment time is 30 minutes because the light is so bright. The brightness is not adjustable – if you want it to be less bright, you need to move it away further than the recommended 35cm. There is a handle so you can move it around easily, though at 2.85kg while it’s technically portable, it’s certainly not light.
Diamond 5 SAD lightbox: £292, SAD UK
Brightness: 10,000 lux
This is a big, hefty light and it’s quite expensive. But it’s a simple machine to use and the large display means it has an especially short usage time: just 20 minutes, which may be ideal for a busy lifestyle. Its 4.2kg weight means it can’t stand on every desk comfortably, but it is so big it will dominate smaller rooms and not necessarily in a good way. The light intensity can be varied so you can adjust it if it’s too bright. Having two or three of the five lights turned on means you can leave it on all day if you prefer.
Lumie desklamp: £120, Lumie
Brightness: 10,000 lux
There’s plenty of flexibility in this lamp. The neck of the light can be moved to the exact point you need it at, so it can work as a reading light when you’re not using it as a SAD lamp. The recommended usage time is 30 minutes, though this can be done in stages rather than all at once. The LEDs have extra blue shades built in which is believed to be beneficial. A touch-control system gives access to four different light levels. There’s also a diffuser to make the light even easier on the eye.
Lumie Vitamin L SAD light: £75, Lumie
Brightness: 10,000 lux
The simply designed, slim block of light that is the Vitamin L light works well and looks good. Because it’s so slim it’s easy to place on any table and easy to store. It works upright or on its side and is large enough to feel versatile and useful. A minimum of 30 minutes use per day is recommended, though this doesn’t have to be all in one go – shorter sessions are meant to have a cumulative effect.
Beurer TL30 ultra portable daylight: £59.99, John Lewis & Partners
Brightness: 10,000 lux
This simple lamp looks good and extremely easy to set up. It’s similar to the Lumie Vitamin L above, though this one is smaller. However, Beurer recommends a much longer usage time: two hours per day. It’s neatly designed with a clip-on piece designed to hold it upright which slides into a pocket on the back when you’re done. It can clip in different places so you can angle it as you wish. Although it is light and portable, it’s mains-only.
The verdict: SAD lamps
The Philips EnergyUp light is powerful, portable and effective. The Lumie range is extensive with something for everyone. The Lumie Bodyclock Shine 300 is a tremendous alarm clock with therapeutic benefits and the same company’s Vitamin L SAD light is compact but potent.
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.
This $80 lamp has helped me cope with the winter blues at home by emitting light that mimics the sun
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That succulent is the only plant to survive the frail light in our apartment. Hence the HappyLight to help both me and my plants combat the “winter blues.” Mara Leighton
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects millions of people each year. It often starts in the fall and continues into winter months. Symptoms can include fatigue, depression, and social withdrawal.
- One highly recommended and inexpensive treatment is light therapy, which mimics the elements found in sunlight.
- I tried the new Verilux HappyLight Touch ($79.95) and found that my mood pretty much instantly improved. It’s not ideal to spend $80 on anything, but it’s relatively cheap and convenient.
- I chose the HappyLight Touch because it’s sleek and unobtrusive in my apartment and easy to move around — both at home and for travel.
The cold months, and their characteristically long, dark, chilly days, are known to usher in SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) for millions of people each year. Energy levels and moods drop, sleep quality worsens, and some, like me, eschew hobbies and activities they enjoy to burrow into the comfort of their homes under two weighted blankets until the weather lifts.
SAD, if you’re unfamiliar, is a type of depression that occurs at a certain time each year — usually the fall or winter, according to the Mayo Clinic. One possible treatment that’s relatively inexpensive, convenient, and effective is light therapy.
Light therapy, in a nutshell, includes siting by or working near a light-emanating device that essentially mimics the elements of bright, natural light. In one study, an immediate improvement in mood was observed after one session as short as 20 minutes. It feels almost primal, and it can ticks the right boxes in your brain to produce better, happier, more energetic moods. According to doctors, you should start light therapy in the early fall and continue through the spring, or until the natural light is sufficient enough to provide those higher energy levels.
When looking for a light therapy box, you want to search for something with 10,000-lux light. The Wirecutter and the Center for Environmental Therapeutics (a nonprofit collective of scientists and clinicians focused on environmental therapies) suggests the $115 Carex Day-Light Classic Lamp, but I opted for the new Verilux HappyLight Touch ($79.95) instead. It meets the requirements for efficacy, and it’s far more portable and unobtrusive in a shoe box New York City apartment. Since it’s more convenient, I’m more likely to use it rather than resent it for taking up two-thirds of my most spacious room corner. It also small enough for travel.
For me, this has been a great fit, and one that isn’t disruptive to my life. The Verilux HappyLight emits 10,000-lux light, and claims to be the first with personalized settings of brightness levels and two colors of light (day light and warm light). It’s sleek and looks like a tablet, so it fits in well with the rest of my decor and can be slipped into a purse or suitcase. Though technically you can wall mount it, I like the convenience of mobility.
To use it most effectively, the light from the light box needs to enter your eyes indirectly. Don’t look right into it or you may damage them (same rules as the sun). Ideally, you’ll set it up about 16 to 24 inches from your face. With 10,000-lux light, sessions typically involve daily sessions of 20-30 minutes. Lower intensity boxes will require longer sessions. Whatever you opt for, the most important factor is just being consistent.
It’s recommended to sit in front of the light for 20-30 minutes each day. Amazon
For most people, light therapy is most effective when you do it right after you wake up in the morning — but you may want to check with your doctor for a personal plan. For me, it’s a really great ritual to begin the day with. When I leave my room’s watery light (courtesy of a blocked off window in Manhattan), the real sunshine outdoors feels brighter and more invigorating.
Though my experience won’t always be the same as the next person, I can firmly say that this light does, indeed, make me feel happier. Surprisingly so. Having said that, I’ll readily admit that I’m already sensitive to my environment (my best home splurge was smart lights with 50,000 shades of white light), and that the sickly light in my low apartment has been known to kill strong plants even when perched on windowsills. So this is a definite upgrade.
The major upside to this type of therapy is that it’s inexpensive. You should not replace regular in-person therapy sessions with light therapy, but it may be an affordable supplement. I think feeling more relaxed and happy at home, and overall, is worth the $80. Investing in mental health is important to me, and this light is probably one of the cheaper therapy bills I’ll rack up in life for such immediate and convenient results.
Part of the reason light therapy boxes are so beloved is their safety and convenience — but you should check with your doctor before using one, just to be certain. If you’re taking any medications or have any conditions that make you sensitive to light, it may not be for you.
It’s also worth noting that light therapy probably won’t cure Seasonal Affective Disorder or other types of non-seasonal depression. But, it may decrease symptoms and make you feel happier, better, and more energetic in the meantime.
I still come home some winter nights feeling fatigued, and there are still mornings when I feel lethargic, but I genuinely feel happier, calmer, and more like myself with a light therapy lamp session. It’s not ideal to spend $80 on something you may see as inessential, but it’s one of the cheaper options, and I wouldn’t regret the expense.
If you’re considering a light therapy box, this has been a good option for me. You may want to visit your doctor before getting your own, but I’d recommend keeping this one on the list.
Buy the Verilux HappyLight Touch Light Therapy Lamp, available on Amazon, $79.95
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or has had thoughts of harming themselves or taking their own life, get help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) provides 24/7, free, confidential support for people in distress, as well as best practices for professionals and resources to aid in prevention and crisis situations.
Product Name: The Verilux HappyLight 2500 Compact Energy Lamp
Latest Review Date: 28 August 2019
Price Guideline: $$$
The Verilux HappyLight 2500 Compact Energy Lamp is a no frills light, but it is at the cheaper end of the spectrum (no pun intended) and worth an investment if it is your first SAD light.
MY RATING: 84%
I hope you love the products that I recommend here! Just so you know, I work with Amazon and other affiliate partners and may be compensated from the links below.
Read full details here.
- Provides up to 2,500 lux of natural spectrum daylight (note 10,000 lux is the recommended light intensity level to treat SAD effectively)
- Optix Lens filters and diffuses light – reducing glare
- Compact, space-saving design is easy to move from room to room
- Electronic ballast and Flicker Elimination Technology™ assures no-buzz operation and instant-on, flicker-free illumination
- On-off power switch on cord
- Energy efficient bulb uses only 26 watts to produce 150 watts of natural spectrum light
- Product Dimensions: 4.8W x 2.8D x 9H inches
- Product Weight: 1.3 pounds
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
- Bulb: A 26 watt GU24 bulb that is Daylight Full Spectrum
- Bulb Life: 10,000 hours
- Lux Strength: 2500 lux
- Power: AC 120V~60Hz
- 30 day satisfaction guarantee
- One Year Limited Warranty
In The Box
- HappyLight Compact Energy Lamp (including bulb)
- Instruction manual
- Registration card
So How Does the Verilux 2500 Compact Work?
The HappyLightCompact 2500 Energy Lamp is a pretty simple piece of kit – but that it not a bad thing.
Just place the lamp around 12 inches from your face, slightly offset from center but directed at your eyes.
Remember this is only 2,500 lux of light so less powerful than other lights. This means you need to use it for a little longer – recommended usage time is one to two hours. The lamp is something you could quite easily, and fairly un-intrusively, place on your desk at work for instance.
Some users do find that having it as close as recommend can be a bit overbearing though.
As always if it is the first time you’ve used a SAD lamp it will take time to adjust to the brightness of it. Pre-test your sensitivity to it by starting with ten minutes in front of the lamp and if you do feel any discomfort then discontinue use.
If you don’t then gradually increase the time you spend in front of the HappyLight 2500. In the same way tinker with the distance you have it away from you.
Eventually you should find a duration and distance that suits your needs.
Whilst it may not be in the same league as the Philips goLITE BLU Light Therapy Device the HappyLight Compact Energy Lamp certain has the advantage of being compact and portable.
It is 9 inches high by 4.75 inches wide and 2.25 inches deep so doesn’t take up too much space. To give you an idea of the size, it is comparable to a large tissue box and not heavy at all (it weighs 1.3lbs).
It is very easy to unplug and move from room to room and is very unobtrusive.
It can fit on most surfaces – even a cluttered one and you could take it to work with you, although you would need to be careful and make sure you protect the bulb and case.
HappyLight is probably an apt name for this SAD light as the light it gives off is very natural, soothing and pleasant. The white plastic casing that surrounds the light softens the bulb inside and reduces the jarring nature that you can sometimes get with SAD lights, instead you get a nice clean light.
Several users have commented on how it beautifully illuminates a room due to its natural light.
A combination of the natural light and the compact design means, as mentioned previously, you could easily use this light at work. It is one of the better SAD lights for a work environment.
It is not too intrusive and the light produces more of a glow rather than a harsh shine. If having a light you could take to work with you is an important factor then the HappyLight is well worth considering.
Always an important factor – the HappyLight is very reasonably priced. Coming in at just under $60 at the time of writing, it is significantly cheaper than most SAD lights out there.
Because of the cheaper price tag lots of people use the HappyLight as a good second lamp. You could have your main lamp in the bedroom for instance and set up this light in the bathroom to use as you get ready for work or leave it at work itself.
Due to the pleasant nature of the light you could even use it in your living room as a standard lamp or reading lamp (although don’t use it too late as it may upset your circadian rhythm!).
Finally, the lamp is very easy to use, you literally plug it in and turn on using the switch on the cord and you are ready to go.
Also the company that produce this light, Verilux, is a top brand, trusted for quality and renowned for their SAD lamps, so you have brand confidence as well.
The HappyLight Compact is, to be blunt, quite basic. Essentially it is a fluorescent light bulb in a plastic box, with a diffuser that spreads and softens the light from the bulb. It does feel slightly cheap, but of course it is compared to other lights.
Along the same lines it doesn’t have any special features – no timer, no alarm, no adjustable settings or intensity levels. But again at the price you are paying you wouldn’t necessarily expect these.
The strength of the light is only 2,500 lux. Most light boxes are 10,000 lux. This means that you would need to sit with the HappyLight for at least two hours to get the same effect you do from a 10,000 lux SAD light in 30 minutes. So you do need longer exposure to the HappyLight for it to be effective.
However due to the portable nature and unobtrusiveness of the device it is something you could set up on your desk at work and quite easily sit for a couple of hours in front of.
It is also worth noting that the bulb used in the HappyLight is replaceable only by a specific bulb (the GU24). You can’t just buy a standard full-spectrum light bulb. This GU24 bulb is quite expensive, at around $15 it is about a quarter of the price of the light itself. You can buy adapters that will convert the Verilux base so you can use a standard full-spectrum light bulb though.
A very small number of users did report that the light did induce slight agitation and annoyance rather than making them feel happy! However this really was a small number in the overall scheme of things (definitely less than 5% of users).
The product has, in my opinion, a sleek eye-pleasing design. It has a clean, modern look and fits easily into a small space. The light diffuser works nicely, giving it a lovely glow when the light is turned on. It also seems quite durable. So all in all no complaints in this department.
And Does It Work?
The majority of users say it leaves them feeling happier, brighter and more energised. Some even commented on how, without realising, they had dropped their afternoon caffeine fix and their afternoon snack when using this light.
SAD charity SADA have released figures showing that light therapy is effective in up to 85% of diagnosed cases of Seasonal Affective Disorder. This is backed up by study after study that show light therapy makes a difference to those suffering with SAD:
- University of North Carolina study
- University of British Columbia study
- Harvard Health Publication
- Overview of numerous studies
In short – the chances are it will make a difference for you!
- Compact and portable design
- Lovely natural and soothing light
- Easy to take to work and use at your desk
- Very reasonably priced
- Makes a good second SAD lamp to use elsewhere
- Plug in and go – easy to use!
- Verilux brand is well respected
- Fairly basic
- No special features like a timer or adjustable intensity
- Only 2,500 lux so need longer exposure
- Replacement bulbs are expensive
My Rating – 84%
Good for mild SAD sufferers
If you suffer from more mild SAD or want a SAD light to plonk on your desk at work, then the HappyLight Compact Energy Lamp could be perfect for you! It’s portability and pleasant soft light belies its cheaper price tag.
If your SAD symptoms are a bit more severe you might want to go for a stronger SAD light, like the Verilux Happy Light Liberty 10,000.
But if you are venturing into the world of SAD lights for the first time and looking for a reliable, well priced light, made by a respected company, to see if it has any effect on your SAD then you could do far worse than trying out the HappyLight. It is basic, but it does a good job.
User Rating: 4.3 ( 1 votes)
An alternative budget light with variable light intensity that is portable and provides the full 10,000 lux of light that is recommended to treat SAD effectively is the Aura Day Light Therapy Lamp, so you might want to have a look at that.
If you would like to leave your personal review or experience of this product, or if you have any questions, please do leave them below. I would love to hear your feedback!
Don’t forget you can also check out our SAD Light Reviews Index for all of my SAD Light Reviews on one page or read my SAD Light Buyers’ Guide to pick the best SAD Light for you.
Tags:2500 lux, cheap, portable, verilux
Product review: Verilux HappyLight Energy Lamp 5000
The Verilux HappyLight Energy Lamp 5000 model is a mid-range lightbox aimed at alleviating light occurrences of SAD. This lamp provides you with a reasonable 5000 lux, which is enough to brighten any day, giving you that much needed boost when you need it the most. As it is of a lower intensity than many other lightboxes out there, it will need to be on for at least an hour for you to reap the maximum benefit. Just like with any light box, the HappyLight 5000 is not intended to be used as a one stop solution to your ailments and the best results will come when you combine light therapy with a healthy diet and exercise regime. It has become a popular choice with new students who find that they have moved to a place where winters are a little gloomier than they are used to.
As its name suggests, the HappyLight 5000 generates 5,000 lux of light, which is very respectable once you factor in its price and size. With compact dimensions of 6 x 4 x 12 inches, it is easy to find a nice home for the lamp. The whole thing weighs just 2 pounds, so moving it about is very simple. The base is well crafted, holding the light firmly in place so you can set it at the perfect angle. HappyLight makes use of the latest in Flicker Elimination and Electronic Ballast Technology, which means that the light turns on at full brightness, requiring no time to warm up, and guarantees a flicker and buzz free experience. The company also boasts about their patented lightbulbs, which have been carefully calibrated to be of minimal nuisance to the human eye. The bulbs, they say, give off light across the full spectrum of light, in order to replicate the light given off by the sun.
The design is nicely finished with a soft blue tint to the silver plastic casing and the lamp avoids being ostentatious with a simple style that will not look out of place anywhere. It is definitely one of the more sleek light boxes that we have seen. Everything has been clearly thought out, with a power lead that runs securely into the back of the device to avoid clutter. The slot that the cable sits in carefully nests the lead so that you do not have to worry about the wires fraying or being exposed as you move the lamp around.
- Stylish design
- Compact size
- Low energy
- Treatment can take upwards of one hour
- Material used seems cheap
- White light can seem unnatural
This lamp is perfect for people whose symptoms could be described as mild to moderate. As the HappyLight only produces 5000 lux, it doesn’t deliver the recommend dosage for more severe cases of SAD (10,000 lux) but should make long lasting improvements to the lives of many users. Being less bright than other light boxes gives it the advantage of being able to function as a desk lamp, as you should find that you are able to leave it on for long periods of time. Turning it on and off is easily done and there are a few settings to make use of, allowing you to set the light at the brightness you feel is necessary.
Not only is it a cheap option to start with, but the HappyLight 5000 should not cost you a great deal in the long run. It has energy efficient bulbs, requiring only 36 watts, which are quite cheap to replace, if you do find that they fail. Many users report the bulb functioning after well up to a year of regular usage, and while we have not been able to try it for that long, we encountered no issues. The lamp switches on without a fuss and there is no annoying humming or flickering even after prolonged usage. The light itself glows white, which can be a little harsh and even a little disorienting when moving in and out of range.
The low cost of this item makes it ideal for anyone unsure about the possible benefits of light therapy. It is strong enough for you to start noticing if light therapy would work for you, whilst remaining weak enough to allow you to have it on for a lengthy period of time and get used to using a light box.
Do Happy Lights Really Work for Seasonal Depression?
I’m bathing in light at this moment—a warm 10,000-lux dunking. The flood of lumens is emitting from a narrow vertical panel about two feet from my desk, angled so it washes over my face but doesn’t blind me from typing. I’m going to continue this light splash every day this winter. It’s going to make me happy.
That’s the premise, at least. Perhaps I should say it will make me less sad, since this dose of radiance is intended to counter my seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a condition that affects an estimated 10 million people who, in the diminished winter light, can feel as though they are diminished themselves.
Before I get into some scientific views on the therapeutics of sitting narrow-eyed to the side of your personal spotlight, let’s look at the circumstances that led me here. I’ve had mild to moderate depressive episodes since adolescence. I can best describe the feeling as a dull smothering, a numbness, a withdrawal from the world — a world that feels pointless.
When I’m cloaked in this state of depression, I can’t be roused by much of anything; it’s my version of hibernation.
My lamp is close enough to reach out and hug it, but I’m not in that good of a mood yet.
What I experience is greatly different from clinical depression, which can prompt near-catatonia in some sufferers, including organized thoughts of self-harm, which often require complicated medical intervention. For me, it’s usually a few days of psychic weight and bleakness, and then it lifts, though not often as a result of any discernible event or pattern. In effect, the albatross around my neck is suddenly cut from its tether.
Because I’ve felt that sinking “cloud shading the sun” feeling every winter, when a friend suggested I try using a light therapy box, I checked them out and borrowed one.
Psychology Today describes SAD as a “recurrent major depressive disorder,” suggesting that it’s something more strangling than how I’ve described my state, which might more accurately be called “winter blues.” Some of the suggested symptoms — feelings of sadness, difficulty concentrating, drops in energy — are familiar, but during an episode or not, I always have that stated craving for sweet or starchy foods. Which I’m not all that sad about.
My 30-minute sessions with the Happy Light, even after a couple weeks, still feel odd. I typically do them in the morning, after coffee, which might not be recommended, since the Mayo Clinic states that besides eyestrain and headache, I might experience “mania, euphoria, hyperactivity, or agitation associated with bipolar disorder.”
I follow the guidelines by Verilux, the light’s manufacturer: 10,000 lux for 30 minutes is recommended, though the company says you can play with varying durations and distances. My lamp is close enough to reach out and hug it, but I’m not in that good of a mood yet. Other respected light therapy box manufacturers include Alaskan Northern Light Therapy, Circadian Optics, Carex, and more, but I haven’t researched their differences.
Verilux states that sunlight on a bright day can reach 100,000 lux, so the Happy Light supplies more of a maintenance dose of serotonin, the so-called happiness hormone, the production of which is triggered by bright light. Even if the light box is only a tenth of a bright day’s dosage, that is presumably enough for the benefit.
I’m mildly stunned afterward, like waking up from a dream, and the potent glow makes my eyes tired. The Mayo folks suggest you discuss the use of the light box with your doctor, which I should have, but being a self-medicator of some standing, I’m winging it. I’m doing my regular work — mostly writing — while I’m using it, so I’m focusing on that while the lamp focuses on me.
Full-spectrum light therapy has been used since the early 1990s as a treatment for mood disorders, as well as for conditions like acne and psoriasis. These days, cannabis growers even use variants of full-spectrum LED lights to encourage their lovelies to flower, giving another meaning to “happy lights.”
The mild depression I’ve felt at various times of year always intensifies in the dark months, so much so that by October’s end, I’m feeling the stir of dread.
Norman Rosenthal, the psychiatrist who first advocated the use of light therapy after pioneering research on SAD in the mid-1980s, states on his website that his initial discoveries were met with a great deal of skepticism in the medical community. His work has broad acceptance now, but not everyone is convinced.
A 2016 study cited in the Clinical Psychological Journal surveyed 34,000 adults over the course of a year who screened positive for depressive symptoms connected with seasonal change. The study noted each participant’s latitude (noting the darker winters in the northern regions), relative hours of sunlight, and related factors and found no connection between reduced light and depression. Another study focused on the severely shortened daylight hours in Norwegian winters and the lack of increased incidence of depression rates there.
While it may not occur en masse, for many, including for me, seasonal blues are real. The mild depression I’ve felt at various times of year always intensifies in the dark months, so much so that by October’s end, I’m feeling the stir of dread, practicing a confirmation bias of my own.
But applying some of the contemporary regimens of self-therapy seems to help. I’ve been a morning meditator for a few years, and that calming pause gives me some grounding. I’ve been a regular exerciser for many more years, and an outdoor walk often provides that little bit of boost to keep me going. And heck, I live in Santa Cruz County, so just the general grooviness in the air must apply to my burgeoning bliss-ninnyness, right? (Counterpoint: I also like a good Manhattan — mixologist therapy is another approach.)
It’s been only a few weeks with my Happy Light, so my jury of excitable photons is still out. I haven’t had a full depressive episode (good), but my baseline hasn’t felt much different (not as good). Winston Churchill’s “black dog” has had his nose in my door a few times, but he hasn’t climbed on the bed.
Right now, it’s challenging to tell if the light has brought me light. A friend is in hospice and close to dying, and that’s heavy on my mind. Two other couples I’m close with are having serious issues, and things don’t bode well for one couple in particular. And the four-month anniversary of my sweet kitty Malibu’s disappearance just passed.
So, I’m low on several counts. And then there is winter. Even in mild Santa Cruz County, winter has its darkness. But, as mentioned, I haven’t felt overwhelmed, just sad, and sad with reason, which can be quite different than the blanket of depression, which often comes without prompting.
The light indeed may be helping, so I’ll keep my face in the artificial sunshine for a while longer.
Do SAD lamps actually work?
Each winter, I get a brief respite from New York City’s sad, gray days and 4:30 p.m. sunsets by visiting my parents in Florida for a few weeks. Suburban Florida is not a very interesting or exciting place, but there’s something about seeing palm trees and blue skies in December that feels energizing.
On my most recent trip. I commiserated with a friend who was visiting from Montreal and, like me, feels inexplicably sluggish in the colder months. He suggested I buy a “happy lamp,” a bright light often used to treat seasonal affective disorder, to help me feel more rested. “I use it every morning, and it’s made winter bearable,” he told me.
I was skeptical that shining a bright light in my face would make me feel better, even though people do it all the time. And even if it did work, I assumed it’d address the symptoms of my winter lethargy without fixing whatever the underlying problem was.
But light therapy, it turns out, is actually very effective. Katie Sharkey, an associate professor of medicine, psychiatry, and human behavior at Brown University’s Alpert Medical School, told me she often prescribes light therapy to patients diagnosed with SAD. “I think it’s very effective,” Sharkey, who specializes in psychiatry and sleep medicine, said, “but I would recommend that people who have depressive symptoms get seen by someone who can collaborate with them on this treatment, just like you would with a pill or therapy.”
In other words, light therapy works — but you probably shouldn’t buy a SAD lamp just because someone at a party told you to.
What is seasonal affective disorder?
To understand how light therapy works, first you have to understand what causes seasonal affective disorder.
As its name suggests, seasonal affective disorder is a “depressive disorder or mood disorder that occurs most often in the winter,” Sharkey told me, though psychiatrists also have records of patients suffering from summer depression. “It’s part of a cluster of syndromes where mood is affected by day lengths.”
Symptoms are similar to those for year-round depression and include persistent low mood, a loss of interest in daily activities, irritability, finding it hard to get up in the morning, feeling lethargic throughout the day, and changes in appetite, which can mean eating too much or too little but often manifests as cravings for “certain heavier-calorie foods.” Somewhere between 1.4 and 9.7 percent of Americans have SAD, with higher rates the further north you go.
As Joseph Stromberg wrote for Vox, scientists used to doubt the existence of SAD, which was first identified in the 1980s, and initially believed it was caused by insufficient exposure to sunlight in the winter. The idea, which has since been debunked, was that shorter days led to excess production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles, making people feel groggy and irritable during the dark winter months. This was called the photoperiod hypothesis.
Another theory, the phase-shift hypothesis, posits that since the sun rises later in the winter, humans’ circadian rhythms stop being aligned with their sleep-wake cycles. Put more simply, since people tend to wake at the same time every day, even in the months when the sun rises later, change in sunrise times can throw their circadian rhythms out of whack.
But a pair of new studies, both published last September, suggest there’s another explanation for seasonal depression: a brain circuit that connects light-sensing cells in your eyes to regions in your brain that affect your mood. One study found this type of circuit in mice; a few weeks later, a different study suggested a similar pathway exists in humans. “It’s very likely that things like seasonal affective disorder involve this pathway,” Jerome Sanes, a professor of neuroscience at Brown University, told NPR in December.
Samer Hattar, one of the authors of the mouse study and the chief of the section on light and circadian rhythms at the National Institute of Mental Health, made a discovery in 2002 that helps explain these recent developments. In 2002, Samer and Brown neuroscience professor David Berson discovered a new type of cell in the eye. Combined with other work done on SAD, this suggests that seasonal depression is caused by a lack of light.
I can’t tell the difference between depression and February
— Rani Molla (@ranimolla) February 26, 2019
“Before the cell paper was published , a lot of people — including me, to be honest — just made the assumption that the depressive effects of light are disruption to the circadian clock,” Hattar told me. “They assumed that the sensitivity of this system was similar to the sensitivity of the circadian system. But now that we’ve found this completely new circuit, we don’t know if the sensitivity of the system is the same as the circadian system. We don’t know how much light — for humans — you need to shine to activate this mood-enhancing pathway.”
That doesn’t mean light therapy isn’t effective. “People have known for many years that light therapy works,” Hattar told me. Even if scientists are still trying to figure out what causes SAD, there’s nearly a consensus that light therapy is an effective treatment that could address SAD directly, not just its symptoms.
SAD lamps work — if you use them the right way
Light therapy, or phototherapy, was prevalent long before seasonal affective disorder was considered an actual affliction. According to the National Library of Medicine’s blog Circulating Now, the practice was used in antiquity to help balance a person’s humors — this was back when doctors thought that all medical problems were caused by imbalances in four bodily fluids (black bile, yellow bile, phlegm, and blood), a bizarre form of pseudoscience that endured for more than 2,000 years — and was later used to treat a range of conditions including psoriasis, lupus, and sleep disorders.
In 1903, physician Niels Ryberg Finsen was awarded a Nobel Prize for his work on the therapeutic and physiological effects of light treatment. A few decades later, sun lamps became commonplace in both Europe and the US — both for therapeutic and cosmetic purposes.
In Sweden, where the sun sets around 3 pm in January, light therapy clinics have been a popular way of treating SAD since the 1980s. Some Swedish light therapy clinics, writer Linda Geddes wrote for the Atlantic in 2017, even dress patients in all-white outfits and have them sit in whitewashed rooms full of bright light to treat the winter blues. According to Geddes, light therapy clinics are no longer as prevalent was they were in the ’80s, and only a few remain today.
But people who find themselves suffering from winter-induced depression have other treatment options that don’t require sitting in blindingly white rooms. Light boxes, or light therapy lamps, have become increasingly popular in recent years, especially in the US, and even among people who haven’t been officially diagnosed with SAD.
Google searches for “lamp for seasonal affective disorder” have skyrocketed since 2016, according to Google Trends — perhaps not surprisingly, people tend to look into buying these products in November and December, and people in northern states with rough winters, like Minnesota and Michigan, are the ones driving the most search traffic. The Cut, the Wirecutter, and CNN have compiled lists of the best SAD lamps, which range from sleek light boxes that fit on your desk to floor lamps.
Sharkey, the Brown University psychiatrist, said light therapy can be a very effective treatment for patients who have been diagnosed with SAD, adding that Hattar’s and Sanes’s respective studies were a huge breakthrough in understanding how SAD works. The mouse study, she said, was “probably the most exciting paper I’ve seen in the last year.”
“It’s huge, because it provides a neural substrate for what we’ve observed clinically” — that natural light can have huge effects on a person’s mood, especially in the winter months. “The artificial light we’re under is not giving the same signal to our brains as the light we get outdoors,” Sharkey told me. “Even though it may seem slightly less bright than outdoor light, to our brains it’s actually much less bright. I’m sitting in my office now: I can see perfectly, I can read. But if I went outside, even though it’s overcast here, it’s still orders of magnitude brighter outside to the brain,” she said.
Light therapy can more or less trick your brain into thinking you’re getting hit by natural light, as long as you’re using the right device. “There are features that you should definitely look for,” she said. “I usually tell people that they want a light box that’s got UV filtering, that can produce with one and five thousand watts. I tell patients that a broad-spectrum light box, rather than one that’s a particular color or hue, is usually better because people tend to find those more pleasant. Those are some of the features I look at. If you those three criteria, then it can be based on aesthetic preference and price range. You can spend 300 bucks or 50 bucks, and you should spend the number of bucks you can afford.”
But, Sharkey warned, light boxes have to be used correctly — use it too early in the day and you’ll find yourself getting tired before your usual bedtime; use it too late and you’ll have trouble getting to bed — and they can lead to other side effects, like headaches, interference with certain medications, and rashes. And, she added, this decision should be made in consultation with a professional.
“I definitely recommend that people who feel depressed enough to seek treatment seek treatment,” she said. “That’s a rule to live by: Take care of your mental health.”
I tried a lamp that’s supposed to make you feel happy in the winter, but I didn’t notice any change
Two weeks in. INSIDER/Gabbi Shaw
There’s something to be said for waking up earlier and giving yourself a few extra minutes in the morning. I was able to get fully awake and ready for the day before hopping on the train to work. That said, I’m not sure it was the lamp or the extra time that helped me.
But the experiment did leave me wondering, how will my body react once I stop using the lamp?
I’m curious if I’ll have trouble adjusting back to life without my SAD lamp — the one I used was loaned to me.
According to a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, some people do become dependent on light therapy to combat their depression. The study examined the effectiveness of light therapy versus cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), a collaborative practice between therapist and patient that aims to identify, understand, and change behavior or thinking patterns.
The study found that after three years, relapses in depression were higher in the participants that used SAD lamps once they were taken away from them than in participants who used CBT. According to The Cut, which interviewed leader of the study Kelly J. Rohan, “people who did light therapy had a relapse rate of 46% versus 27% in the CBT group, and they had more severe symptoms, too.”
In other words, treating your seasonal depression with a SAD lamp might not be the most effective long-term solution.
At the end of the month, my main take away was that my SAD lamp had turned into an extra makeup light.
I didn’t notice a big enough change in my mood to truly believe in my lamp, but that could have been because I don’t have seasonal depression.
The biggest lesson I learned was that it might be time to invest in a makeup light of my own. It helped me see that I was using more makeup than I needed to be because of the poor lighting in my room.
Although results about the effectiveness of SAD lamps for every individual are inconclusive, I would still recommend speaking to a doctor and, if approved, trying one out.
Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.
- 10 common questions about depression, answered
- You can get the ‘winter blues’ in the summer — here’s why
- How to tell the difference between passing sadness and depression
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It’s fact: the sun is the ultimate light box. Our bodies are tuned to its rays, and it shows when your location, lifestyle, or just the time of year keeps you in the dark much of the time. Even people not prone to depression get the winter blues when the days grow short and access to sunshine is scarce.
to read user reviews on the Verilux Happy Light.
Psychologists have a name for this: SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder. And while a minority of individuals will ever receive an official SAD diagnosis, many more know exactly what it feels like to be starved of light. Sadness, insomnia, low energy, and lack of motivation are among the symptoms.
SAD is a real drag – until you realize that light isn’t such a complicated technology. Couldn’t you simulate natural light and thereby save yourself some unnecessary wintertime grief? You certainly could, and researchers agree that so-called “light therapy” is one of the most effective ways to treat mood issues related to sun deprivation.
That’s the basic idea behind light boxes like the Happy Light by Verilux, designed to treat the winter blues.
The Verilux Happy Light is not the only phototherapeutic light box available to consumers. But it is one of the most popular, so in this review we will take a look at its key features and what makes it a worthy buy for those afflicted with the winter blues. Hopefully this will be one of the most useful Happy Light reviews you read to help you make an informed choice as a consumer. to read user reviews on the Verilux Happy Light.
There are five models of Happy Light offered by Verilux:
- HappyLight Deluxe
- HappyLight Liberty 10k
- HappyLight Liberty 5k
- HappyLight 7500
- HappyLight 2500
Light is light, right? Sort of; a light box’s type—and quality of light emitted—varies. To effectively combat Seasonal Affective Disorder, the rays need to be ‘full-spectrum’ light, meaning the full, natural range of light frequencies is emitted from the source in a continuous spectral power distribution. In this regard, Verilux checks out with its full-spectrum Happy Light.
What about UV ray protection? The Mayo Clinic says that, for health reasons, light boxes need to filter out ultraviolet light. UV rays are harmful to your skin and eyeballs. Fortunately, Happy Lights do filter UV radiation.
A light box’s effectiveness hinges on its “Lux” capacity and range. 10,000 Lux is the standard minimum ‘dose’ needed to ease symptoms in light-deficient users. Most major brands offer boxes that deliver 10,000 Lux to a certain distance, including Verilux with its Deluxe and Liberty 10k Happy Light models.
Caveat emptor: Verilux does market boxes with less than 10,000 Lux for light therapy purposes, which may not effectively combat SAD. The brand’s 6,000-; 5,000-; and 2,500-Lux versions are less expensive, but may not provide the same benefit, at least within a convenient span of time.
The next question, then, is where do you have to be in relation to the light in order to receive your 10k for the day? Keep in mind, you’re not going to be sitting with the box in your lap when you use it, but you will need to be quite close.
For a 10,000-Lux Happy Light, the recommended user range is 6 to 24 inches. But here’s where the fine print gets tricky. The Happy Light Deluxe and Liberty 10k, the sunniest models, provide the 10,000 Lux you need only within the photopic range of 6 to 8 inches. Beyond that, the light is less effective.
For some, 6 to 8 inches is just too close, so evaluate your needs carefully. This is why there are higher-end light boxes; you can always pay for a bigger and brighter light. For many consumers, however, Happy Lights do well enough considering their middle-of-the-road price tag.
Before you buy a box, consider where you’ll put it and whether its area of brightness is within a convenient range for your chosen activity. Most people want a box that provides enough light at a comfortable distance. Happy Lights have an impact zone of not quite two square feet, so you can pop your box on your desk or kitchen table and sunbathe while you read the morning paper or surf the Internet.
The Happy Light’s brightness range is better than many lesser boxes. It’s not the largest available, but is one of the largest for an affordable price, bearing in mind the Lux-related limitations discussed above. Verilux also makes positioning easier by including a table top stand and wall mount for more placement choices.
Size-wise, the Happy Light Liberty 10k has dimensions of 13.5 x 6.25 x 2.12 inches, so it is notably compact for its power output. Because the portable box is diminuitive and lightweight, it would probably fit in your suitcase if you wanted to travel with it.
Another important question is how long do you need to sit with the light box in order to get the intended therapeutic effects? About half an hour will do wonders for most people with SAD, but that benchmark presumes an intensity of 10,000 Lux. A lower Lux output means it will take more time each day to get the full benefit.
Studies show, for instance, that you would have to sit with a 2,500-Lux box for 2 to 6 hours every day to get the same effects as 10,000 Lux for half an hour. For busy folks, less time is better. Thus, the Happy Light Deluxe and Happy Light Liberty 10k models offer the most convenience for the time-strapped consumer.
When you’re shopping for light boxes, you will come across many Verilux Happy Light reviews with minimal substance, gushing about how awesome the product is without stopping to consider the crucial details that make or break buyer satisfaction. In reality, there are important specifications to consider as a light box buyer, including not only Lux levels, but the time and distance limitations imposed on output.
Most Verilux Happy Light reviews conclude that it’s a good product that works for most people. That’s generally true. But keep in mind, everyone is different. Your mileage may vary, and your results will depend on which model of Happy Lamp you buy.
To get the expected mood-enhancing and energizing benefits from your Happy Light – without having to significantly change your lifestyle or go broke – the Happy Light Deluxe and Happy Light Liberty 10k models are a good bet. The average user may not get as much as benefit from the brand’s other models.
Summary: Buyers with less intense phototherapy needs – or a lot of spare time – may prefer one of the less expensive Verilux models. Buyers with a more deep-seated light deficiency – and deeper pockets – may want to upgrade to a pricier, brighter box made by another manufacturer.
All told, the Verilux Happy Light is a popular mid-market option that does what it says. This science-based phototherapy box really does help a lot of people with Seasonal Affective Disorder. It’s not too expensive and offers significant value if you do your research and know your individual needs up-front.
This Is the Light Therapy Lamp Amazon Shoppers Swear By to Combat Seasonal Affective Disorder
As summer wanes and fall’s crisper winds usher us toward winter each year, seasonal affective Disorder (SAD) kicks in for millions of people. This type of depression typically recurs annually during the colder, darker months, and lifts in the spring, although 40 percent of SAD cases wind up continuing on into non-seasonal symptoms, according to a paper published in the scientific journal Neuropsychopharmacology.
Whether you grapple with SAD yearly or want to preemptively seek treatment to avoid developing symptoms, light therapy lamps can be effective at-home tools for counteracting the damage done by shorter days with less sunlight. If you’ve never tried light therapy to boost depleted energy or heightened lethargy, Amazon shoppers have done the research for you and discovered Verilux’s HappyLight.
Image zoom Amazon.com
To buy: Verilux HappyLight Light Therapy Energy Lamp, $80; amazon.com
Providing 10,000 lux (a unit of luminosity), the bright white light mimics sunlight to help improve your mood on gloomy winter days. With a cumulative 4.5-star rating, many reviewers credit the light with making them “friendlier and more tolerant of stress,” eliminating a “sense of fear, dread, and hopelessness as night fell,” and preparing them to be “ready to meet the day.”
Verilux recommends using the light therapy box within four hours of waking up, during that post-lunch slump (instead of grabbing another cup of coffee), or whenever you need a quick pick-me-up. You can choose between two brightness levels and tilt the large lens to adjust how directly the light beams onto your face.
RELATED: These Are the 7 Top-Rated Light Therapy Boxes for Seasonal Depression on Amazon
Some of the positive reviews comment on how quickly adding this light into their daily routines reversed some of their SAD symptoms.
“I wish I had found this light five years ago. The first day I used it for about 15 minutes, and I wasn’t sure, but I thought I felt a little peppier for the first few hours after I used it,” one said. “The second day I used it for 20-30 minutes, and I definitely felt better. I’ve used it for a couple weeks now, and it has significantly improved my quality of life. I definitely have more energy, vitality and interest in everything in my life. I have forgotten to use it a couple of times and by the afternoon on those days I’m dragging and wondering what’s wrong, then I realize I forgot to use the light. It really helps give me my life back in fall, and I assume it will continue in winter and spring.”
Many others confess they used to doubt the efficacy of these devices, but the success they’ve experienced with this light has completely reversed their opinions, turning them from skeptics to believers.
One reviewer explained, “I love my Happy Light! At first, I thought it was a simple marketing ploy for a product that most likely, didn’t provide the benefits that it claimed to offer. I was so wrong! 30 minutes every morning, and my spirits are lifted, I have more energy and a better outlook for the day ahead. I realize that it is mostly used for seasonal depression, but I use it every morning, every day of the year and it helps immensely! I would absolutely recommend to anyone who gets the blues on gray days…:”
RELATED: High Vitamin D Levels Are Linked to Better Exercise Capacity
While the Verilux HappyLight can help reverse symptoms of SAD—like feelings of depression, sleep issues, low energy levels, loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed, changes in appetite, increased agitation, sluggishness, and trouble concentrating—it’s still important to meet with your healthcare provider about any debilitating or worsening depression symptoms. And since the light therapy box emits little to no UV rays—meaning it’s safe to expose your skin to the light—that also means it doesn’t provide vitamin D, so if you’re worried about vitamin D deficiency resulting from less sunlight in the winter, you’ll want to check with your doctor about taking a vitamin D supplement.
No single treatment is a miracle cure for mental health conditions, but light therapy (or phototherapy) has helped many people—and with so many glowing user testimonials, the HappyLight seems like a promising tool to get you feeling more like yourself again.
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