Banish the winter blues with light therapy

To banish the winter blues, some health experts say it could be as simple as turning on a light.

If the cold, snow and ice are getting you down, there are a growing number of light therapy products on the market which claim to banish winter blues and give you more energy.

Light therapy is thought to impact chemicals in the brain linked to mood and sleep, easing depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD) symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic.

News Center 7 consumer reporter Rachel Murray found out whether these devices work, if they are safe and what you can expect if you decide to try one.

Light therapy is when you try to offset the depressive effects of not getting enough sunlight.

“The things that you will see are things like increased energy, more willingness to get out and do things, all of the things that we associated with depression should get better,” said Dr. Joseph Allen of Premier Health Family Care in Vandalia.

Dr. Allen says there’s virtually no side effects as long as you choose light with a strong UV filter to avoid skin and eye damage.

“It looks like about 10,000 lux power unit or what have you is what you are looking for and make sure it can be placed somewhere in the home where it’s convenient to use,” he said.

When the cold snow and darkness sets it, Penny Melas-Smith says it really impacts her mood.

“It makes you feel like you just want to stay in the bed, not get out, just makes you feel blah,” she said. “When it’s so blah outside, if anything would make you feel like it’s summer, I’d be willing to try it.”.

Experts recommend to sit for 20 to 30 minutes with the light aimed towards your eyes, but not too look directly at it. They also say it could take weeks before you feel results.

There are light therapy boxes for sale on Amazon and range in price from about $30 to hundreds of dollars, and insurance typically doesn’t cover the cost.