A reader asks:
I bought CET’s recommended light box in early November and can’t even begin to describe what a wonderful addition to my life it has been. I’ve never, ever felt better. I can honestly say that I’ve never been psychologically healthier or happier, not even in the summer. So can I assume that it is safe to continue my use of the light, 30 minutes a day in the morning, during the summer months?
We greatly appreciate your feedback — this kind of news is what keeps us going! Patients with non-seasonal depression, or depression that lifts somewhat but incompletely in summer, are now using light therapy throughout the year. This is unnecessary (and not recommended) for those with “simple SAD” who are asymptomatic in late spring and throughout the summer. You can easily test whether continuing year-round would be valuable for you personally: come early May, skip the lights for one or more days; if you slump, resume the lights for two weeks and then try skipping again. If you don’t slump, just wait until you have the first inklings of fall/winter recurrence, then go back to your proven light therapy routine. Assuming that you need summer treatment, we recommend testing whether an early morning walk outdoors (whether just a stroll, a power walk or a jog) would do the trick. Finally, some patients find that they can reduce light dose after the worst of the winter passes, by shortening treatment session duration.