Please find below a number of questions that our sales
team are asked regularly. Please take your time to browse the questions and if
you have any other queries please contact us using the details here.
How do I know if I've got SAD?
There are a diverse range of
symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder; many are associated with a feeling of
general depression - which is why it is sometimes known as the 'Winter blues'.
Below is a list of possible symptoms.
An example of SAD Symptoms
· Lethargy, lacking in energy, unable to carry out a
· Sleep problems, finding it hard to stay awake
during the day, but having disturbed nights
· Loss of libido, not interested in physical contact
· Anxiety, inability to cope
· Social problems, irritability, not wanting to see
· Depression, feelings of gloom and despondency for
no apparent reason
· Craving for carbohydrates and sweet foods, leading
to weight gain
If you always start to feel the symptoms start the same time
each year, every Autumn/Winter its very likely you suffer from SAD.
It is always
important to consult your doctor if you believe you have SAD as it may be
How is SAD Diagnosed?
Your GP is a good first point of contact. He or she
will ask about your day-to-day life and symptoms. One bout of the "winter
blues" doesn't automatically mean you have SAD. But, if you have regular
symptoms over three or more consecutive years in autumn/winter which clear in
the spring, the diagnosis may be SAD.
Your GP may also want to rule out other forms of
What is the Treatment for SAD?
The basic treatment for
SAD is light therapy. The British NHS, many European Medical Institutions along
with the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association
recommend light therapy. Light therapy is as simple as it sounds - adding more
light to the environment.
A device called a light
box is often used for light therapy. The box contains fluorescent light bulbs,
and is set up in a convenient place to receive treatment. This could be a
nightstand, a desk, or the kitchen table. The light should not be looked at
directly. Sessions with light therapy can be as short as 15 minutes, or as long
as three hours. Treatment should be individualised so that neither too much,
nor not enough light is received.
How can light therapy help?
Previous treatments for
depression and especially Seasonal Affective Disorder involved the use of
prescribed medication. In recent years, however, research across the world has
shown that SAD sufferers responded, often quite dramatically, to treatment with
Lack of light causes an increase in the
production of Melatonin (the hormone that makes us sleepy at night), and a
reduction of Serotonin, the lack of which causes depression. The light has to be
bright enough, and must go in through the eye, to affect the hormone production
in the brain.
The exposure to bright
light therapy reverses the process, with the additional benefit of being drug
By providing summertime
levels of light during the winter you can successfully alleviate the symptoms
of SAD with the result that former sufferers can lead a normal, happier life
and beat the Winter Blues. In fact almost everyone can benefit from increased
energy levels when using a lightbox.
The Society for Light Treatment and Biological Rhythms
(SLTBR) has stated that light therapy is the best non-drug therapy to treat SAD.
Starting your light
therapy treatment is as easy as flicking a switch and you should start to feel
a benefit within 7-10 days of using a medically certified SAD Light.
How should I choose a lightbox?
The choice of a SAD Light
box product is basically governed by your lifestyle Look at your daily
routine, and consider when and where you are going to use your lightbox. It
will need to fit in with your lifestyle as easily as possible to ensure regular
usage. Many lightboxes be used either at home or in an office environment. The
longest treatment time you need to take with one of the less bright lightboxes
is 1½ hours. So if you have only a little time to take your treatment, choose
one of the brighter fast acting boxes, but if you are able to take your
treatment for longer, for instance, while you are working at a desk, then a
small, portable, less bright model may suit you better.
Here at Sad Shop we
understand that it can be confusing to choose your SAD Light Therapy product so
we have made it as easy as possible for you to choose the right equipment by
listing the strengths and timings. As you can see from the menu on the left,
Sad Shop lightboxes have varying degrees of power. Put simply, the higher the
power of a lightbox (Ultra High Powered, High Powered, Ultra Compact), the
quicker the treatment time. Treatment times vary from around 20 minutes using
an ultra high power lightbox to the slower 1 to 2 hour treatment times of the
lower power boxes (Desktop Models, Medium Powered, Lower Powered). Busier
people will need the higher power boxes, with lower power boxes being ideal for
people with a little more time to spare.
Alternatively you can take 'Our which light is right for me' test or if you
require any further help or advice in treating Seasonal Affective Disorder then
please contact Beverley and her friendly team on 01704 500505.
When is the best time to take my
Light therapy can be
started in late August or early September, before symptoms start. Most people
find that light therapy is most effective in the mornings. This is because it
gives your body the natural signal that the day has begun and as a result your
body clock/circadian rhythms can be regulated.
Some people also benefit
from a further light therapy session in the afternoon (around 3’oclock) when
the body takes a natural dip after lunch. If you don't have sufficient time in
the mornings, then having a light therapy treatment in the afternoon is better
than not using one at all.
This is not always the case for everyone, but on the whole it is best earlier
rather than later. It is preferable to take your treatment at the same time
We would not recommend
using a light therapy product less than 4 hours before you go to bed as this
can affect your body clock, resulting in disturbed sleep patterns
How long until I start to
notice a difference?
This can vary, but some people notice a
difference from the first day of treatment, and some take longer, between 2-3
weeks. Usually you should see a difference in about a week or so. If you stop
taking your treatment, the symptoms will start roughly in as many days as the
benefits took to be felt.
What if I miss a Light Therapy
In our busy lives it is
not always possible to have a SAD light treatment everyday. This is not the end
of the world, and you will still benefit from light treatment when you start
Do I have to stare at the
No, you need to have the light aimed
towards your eyes, without actually looking directly into it, about an arms
distance away from you. You can carry on with your daily routine with the
lightbox on beside you, for example, it can be beside your computer terminal or
on your desk, or near you while watching TV, ironing etc. Ideally it should be
about an arms distance away from you, within your peripheral vision, not
directly in front of you, and to glance at it from time to time.
Can I Overdose on Light Therapy?
As it is effectively a
supplement of Sunlight you cannot overdose on Light Therapy. However we would
not recommend using a light therapy product less than 4 hours before you go to
bed as this can affect your body clock, resulting in disturbed sleep patterns.
Are there other conditions that can benefit from light therapy?
Yes, seasonal and non seasonal
depression can both be helped with light therapy as well, people suffering with
MS, ME, Bulimia, infertility, PMT, insomnia, fatigue, shift work sleep problems
, alzheimer's. It has even shown that fertility rates and libido can be
improved. Click here to read how light therapy can benefit from the above conditions.
How often will I need to change
It is advisable to change the bulbs
every three years, as all fluorescent tubes loose some of their brightness with
time, which will weaken the effectiveness of the lightbox. LED lights never
need to be replaced. Click here to see the replacement bulbs for sale.
What is the difference between a
SAD light and a normal flourescent light?
Ordinary light bulbs and
fittings are not strong enough to treat SAD. Average domestic or office
lighting emits an intensity of 200-500 lux but the minimum dose, necessary to
treat SAD is 2500 lux, The intensity of a bright summer day can be 100,000 lux.
The SAD Lightbox bulbs
also emit the full spectrum of light (the same as natural sunlight), unlike
flourescent bulbs that emit a much narrower range of colours and thus the
clarity is greater and better visual accurity is acheived. It is for this
reason that sitting under flourescent lighting can be tiring. Click here to see the
Are Full Spectrum and Daylight Bulbs SAD
No, not at this time.
Unfortunately due to clever marketing many people believe they can get a SAD
Light treatment just by buying a full spectrum bulb or daylight bulb but this
is factually incorrect.
This is misleading as
unless the bulb emits 10000 lux they cannot be classed as powerful enough to
treat Seasonal Affective Disorder. At this time there is no standard bulb, full
spectrum bulb or daylight bulb that is powerful enough to treat SAD. The bulbs
emit a pleasant light that can reduce tiredness and give better visual accurity
but their benefit in treating SAD is unproven and not based on any medical
evidence of which SAD.org.uk are aware.
Is a Dawn Simulator (Natural Alarm Clock)
a SAD Light?
Dawn Simulators treat some
of the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, but they cannot be classed as a
medically proven SAD Light.
If you require a full SAD
treatment please browse our SAD Light Boxes: Rent or Buy Products Section.
Light = Medically proven Light Treatment Device designed to treat the root
cause of SAD (lack of sunlight). This will be classed by the retailer as VAT
exempt (for personal use) it is a proven medical device.
Simulator (Natural Alarm Clock) = A waking device that helps the user wake
gently from there sleep (some Dawn Simulators also include a Sunset facility to
Dawn Simulators are
excellent products in their own right, but they must not be confused with SAD
Lights as they only treat part of the problem. Dawn Simulators will promote
good sleep and help you to wake naturally in the mornings. However, please note
that difficulty waking is just one of the symptoms of SAD and a normal Dawn
Simulator will not cure SAD. Many sufferers of Seasonal Affective Disorder
purchase both a SAD Light and a Dawn Simulator - as a gentle waking using a
Dawn Simulator, followed by a medical SAD Light treatment about half an hour
after you wake has been found to be the most effective way to treat SAD.
SAD Lights that treat the
root cause of Seasonal Affective Diosorder with a full Light Therapy Treatment
and as a result they have to be registered with the Medical Devices Agency as
required by European Union legistlation.
Can Children use SAD Lights?
Some children do suffer
from SAD and it's perfectly safe for them to use a SAD light. Symptoms would be
the same as those suffered by adults. It is also perfectly safe to use a SAD
Light if there are children in the room whilst you are having a treatment. Children
will often be drawn to the pleasant light that is emitted from the products.
Please remember that all
electrical devices should be supervised when being used by younger children.
Due to only small amounts
of research being carried out in respect of light treatment and very young
children, we do not recommend that babies and very small children use a SAD
Although the following Natural Alarm products
will help with sleeping problems your child may be suffering from, and are safe
to use. Bodyclock Junior, Sunrise System
Dawn Simulator SRS 100, Sunrise System Dawn Simulator
Are there any additional ways
to help with SAD and Winter Blues?
1. Light up your life. Spending time outdoors during
the day or arranging homes and workplaces to receive more sunlight can be
really helpful. Keep curtains open in the daytime, let the light in!
2. Get moving.
Take up regular exercise, it will reduce your stress and increase your
endorphin levels- the feel good chemical. - walking, swimming, cycling or
3. Use a light box. Light boxes can be bought for as little
as £115 and, in the UK, are now VAT free.
4. Dawn simulation. Some people, especially those that
need to wake in the morning when it is still dark may benefit from lamps that
simulate a slow, gradual sunrise, in the final hours of sleep. The gentle
natural waking can really help with mood and alertness, and alleviate sleep
5. Buy a negative
in light therapy has also shown that SAD sufferers may benefit from negative
6. Eat more : raw fruits, vegetables, bananas, soy
products, brown rice, millet, beans, herbal teas.
7. Eat less : fat, protein, red meat, caffeine,
alcohol, wheat, refined sugars,
8. Useful vitamins and
daily magnesium and B complex vitamins. Take Vitamin D3, which helps in the
utilisation of calcium, phosphorus and in the assimilation of Vitamin A. A dose
of 400 to 800 IU per day is recommended. Take Omega-3 essential fatty acids,
shown to be effective in alleviating mild depression and symptoms of SAD.
9. Useful Herbs: St.
John's Wort. This
is believed to help alleviate milder symptoms of SAD. A daily dosage of 900 mg.
Warning: St John's Wort can have serious side effects in anyone taking drugs
such as Prozac and should not be taken by anyone who is HIV-positive or who has
had a heart transplant. Always consult your doctor before taking St. John'
Wort. Kava - (Piper methysticum). Small doses can promote feelings of
calm and help elevate your mood. It can also help to regulate sleep if taken an
hour before going to bed. Do not use large doses as this may lead to skin and
eye problems and do not take with alprazolam, as this can be very dangerous.
10. Aromatherapy: Scents have been proven tohave
a powerful effect on our moods. The following are particularly effective in the
treatment of mild SAD symptoms: Lemon Balm (mild sedative), Rosemary
(Uplifting), Blend of Orange and Cinnamon, Lavender (to help you sleep),
Grapefruit Oil, Blend of Jasmine and Bergamot oil (uplifting mix)