Fighting for the Light

One way to fight seasonal depression is to put more light in your life. However, winter-depression expert Michael Terman, Ph.D., cautions that light boxes are not regulated by the FDA. Here are a few tips if you are thinking about treating yourself at home.

Seeing the Light

¶ Make sure your light box filters UV rays

¶ Angle the box with the light shining into your eyes from above, not below.

¶ Standard treatment involves receiving light at 10,000 lux for 30 minutes.

¶ To avoid relapse, treatment should continue throughout the season.


Beyond Light Therapy

There is a wide variety of other methods to fight the winter blues.

Melatonin: A study that appeared in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed that the hormone melatonin may be effective for some people with insomnia. The study also found that the hormone may help wean older people with insomnia off benzodiazepine tranquilizers.

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Saint John's wort: The major antidepressant element in Saint John's wort may well be the compound hyperforin. In a recent study reported in the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, an extract containing 5 percent hyperforin better alleviated depression when compared with a placebo.

5-HTTP: The amino acid 5-hydroxtryptophan increases serotonin virtually without side effects. The naturally occurring component prevents conditions such as migraines and insomnia.

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