Font Size

Seasonal Depression (SAD) (cont.)

How Is Seasonal Affective Disorder Diagnosed?

No single laboratory test or series of tests are available to detect seasonal affective disorder. Your health care professional will make the diagnosis from your history of symptoms, current signs and symptoms, medical interview, and examination.

What Are the Home Remedies for Seasonal Affective Disorder?

The following activities or lifestyle changes may help prevent seasonal affective disorder or improve the symptoms:

  • Spend at least 30 minutes outside every day.
  • Set a timer on a light to go on early in the morning in the bedroom.
  • Use a dawn simulator for a more naturalistic artificial dawn.
  • Take daily walks outside.
  • Increase indoor lighting with regular lamps and fixtures.

What Is the Treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Bright-light therapy: This is exposure to bright artificial light, brighter than usual home or office lighting. Bright-light therapy relieves symptoms for about two-thirds of people with seasonal affective disorder.

  • Bright-light therapy products are available for sale and have a wide range of costs. They range from 2,500-10,000 lux. Many experts recommend that 10,000 lux be used, for adults, teens or during childhood. Bright-light therapy has also been found to be effective during pregnancy. Only devices that filter out harmful ultraviolet waves should be used. Types of devices include light panels or boxes, blankets, and visors.
  • The bright-light source should be placed at eye level. Although staring at the light source is not recommended, the light must enter the eyes if it is to work. (Simple skin exposure does not work.) An approved bright-light therapy device should not harm the eyes if used as recommended.
  • About 30 minutes of exposure to 10,000 lux each day is enough to relieve symptoms in most people. Others require greater exposure, as long as 45 minutes twice a day. You may need some trial and error to find the right amount. Your health care professional will guide you.
  • Properly used, bright-light therapy has few side effects. A few people have reported eyestrain, headache, fatigue, irritability, sensitivity to light, or inability to sleep (only if therapy is used late in the day).
  • Certain medications make you more sensitive to light. Be sure to inform your health care professional of all the medications you are taking, including nonprescription medications and dietary supplements.
  • Tanning beds should not be used for bright-light therapy as they do not filter out harmful ultraviolet waves.
  • You may notice improvement in symptoms within a few days, or it may take as long as three to four weeks after starting therapy.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/18/2016

Must Read Articles Related to Seasonal Depression (SAD)

SSRIs and Depression
SSRIs and Depression Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (learn more >>

Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD, Seasonal Depression):

Seasonal Depression (SAD) - Symptoms

What symptoms did you experience with your seasonal depression (SAD)?

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Depression »

Major depression, also known as unipolar depression, is one of the more commonly encountered psychiatric disorders.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

Medical Dictionary