Lighting at home has real impact for those with Seasonal Affective Disorder

Now that the days are getting shorter, the reduction in natural daylight makes many of us feel glum. For those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), the symptoms of depression are more acute at this time of year. According to the American Lighting Association (ALA), there are some things homeowners can do to counteract the effects of SAD.

People function best when exposed to bright days and dark nights, according to a report by the Lighting Research Center in New York. Consumers might have seen "light boxes" promoted as a solution; however, using a light box is not a do-it-yourself project.

"It's easy to use the light boxesimproperly," said Terry McGowan, director of engineering and technology for the ALA. "Light therapy, just like any other drug or treatment regimen, should be prescribed by a physician. Part of that 'light prescription' will involve how much light, when it's to be provided and for how long."

McGowan's research and concern about combating the symptoms of SAD are personal as well as professional.

"My wife is affected by SAD," he revealed. "We live in northern Ohio, which has many cloudy days and weeks of gloomy weather during November and December. In the dining room and kitchen, the use of indirect lighting brightens the room and supplements the daylight through skylights and large windows."

Some options regarding light bulbs also can help. Brian Creeley, director of residential sales for the light bulb manufacturer Bulbrite, suggests switching out standard incandescent bulbs for versions that mimic the effects of full- spectrum lighting, "leaving you with lighting that has the same effect that you get from sunlight."

These specialty bulbs are readily available at ALA-member lighting stores. If an existing home or condo doesn't have much natural daylight, McGowan offers these tips to brighten rooms:

* Maximize any available morning


* Use light colors for room surfaces

* Use high-reflectance white paint

for the ceiling

* Incorporate an indirect light

source into your room

* Use accent and spot lights

*to focus on plants, decorations

*or feature areas, creating an effect

*similar to sunshine and shadows.

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