light therapyIf you know me well, then you no doubt know that my favorite season is Spring.Come April, I’m as happy as can be! The weather warms up, there’s lots of sun, and things are alive and growing. Even if it rains, the birds still chirp and the worms still come out.

I admit that I’ve never understood people who name Fall as their favorite season! It’s mostly cool, gray, and things are dying all around. Those pretty red and orange leaves are really just dying leaves. I find it rather depressing!

By the time winter hits, I get hit with the blues. October is fairly pleasant, November is cold and dark, December is saved by the holiday festivities, and then January is just plain awful! (Except, of course, for my daughter’s birthday at the end of the month. :) ) By February, I’m freezing, miserable, and have very little motivation. March is usually no better, because despite the promises of March going “out like a lamb,” it rarely does. I can depress myself just thinking about it!

In my many years of coaching adults with ADHD, I’ve learned that I’m not alone in dreading the winter, and the winter blues. A psychiatrist once told me that the majority of adults with ADHD that she sees here in New York suffer from the winter blues, and a significant number suffer from full-blown Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. While I’ve never been diagnosed with SAD, I’m definitely affected by the seasons, and I definitely suffer from mild depression, lack of motivation, and low energy during the winter.

How about you? Are you feeling a little down with the turn of the seasons and starting to dread the coming winter?

Two years ago, I finally (after years of recommendations) decided to try light therapy, and bought a lightbox. I was told to start using it no later than October, when natural light begins its noticeable decline. I held out hope that using the lightbox would somehow make the winter more bearable. And I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised when it did!

That first year, I worried that I would forget to use my lightbox, or that I wouldn’t be able to find the time to fit it into my day. And now I know from experience that making time for the lightbox is no big deal. I work it into my morning routine rather easily by allowing it to shine on me while I’m having my morning coffee. If that doesn’t work for me one day, then I’ll set it up to shine on me while I’m working, or find some time to sit with it mid-morning. It takes only 10-15 minutes a day, so it’s pretty easy to find the time for it. And one of the great things about light therapy is that you can use your lightbox while you’re doing other things—reading, working, or even watching TV. It doesn’t have to be one more thing to worry about!

Light therapy has made a real difference for me. When I’m using my lightbox in the fall/winter, I clearly notice the following benefits:

  • I click into my day a lot quicker. I used to feel “out of it” all day long in the fall and winter, and now I find it much easier to engage.
  • I have more energy during the day, and fall asleep easier at night. It helps me regulate my natural sleep cycle.
  • I actually get things done on those gray days, instead of slumming around and procrastinating.
  • I’m happier, and more pleasant to be around. This alone makes life easier (and not just for me!)

If you’ve ever suffered from the winter blues, and certainly if you’ve ever suffered from full-blown SAD, then I urge you to consider buying a lightbox. I recommend the products made by Northern Light Technologies. The SADelite Desk Lamp is what I use because it’s small, but powerful. It costs about $200, and will run for a few seasons without needing replacement bulbs.

If $200 seems like a big investment for a lamp, ask yourself this: how much is my happiness worth? (Not to mention your productivity!) For me, the purchase of a lightbox was an investment that has truly paid off.

 

Do you suffer from SAD, or the winter blues? How do you manage it? Have you ever tried light therapy? Tell me about your experiences in the comments!


Jennifer Koretsky About Jennifer Koretsky

Jennifer Koretsky, SCAC is the Managing Partner of the ADD Management Group, LLC and Chief Executive Officer of ADHDmanagement.com. She is a Senior Certified ADHD Coach, and the author of Odd One Out: The Maverick's Guide to Adult ADD.

Comments

  1. In October last year, when the clocks went back, I was still insisting that bright light therapy was an overreaction to a spot of the winter blues.

  2. And one final note: A light “treatment” never recommended (for anyone ever) is a tanning booth. “Tanning booths have UV rays that are harmful to the eyes and skin. If you have winter blues, a tanning booth is not the place to go,” says Thompson.

  3. Very nice :) I often use colored bulbs in the practice of chromotherapy. However, something stronger is often necessary during the winter months; because of the doom and gloom. Cabin fever is no fun. It’s spring here now and everything is coming into bloom again. But, I will need something to keep me going for next winter…I wonder, which lightbox do you use?

  4. QUESTION: Have you ever suffered from SAD? How do you boost your energy and spirits during winter?

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