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The Happy Light Review: Does Light Therapy Work?

Written on January 14, 2011 at 1:09 pm , by

If this thing could talk: "Don't worry, be happy!"

If this thing could talk: "Don't worry, be happy!"

Someone once told me that seasonal affective disorder (ie, seasonal depression) is all mental. That it’s my choice to decide how I feel for the day.

You know what? I think that’s phooey. I know my body and my mentality incredibly well…and if I happen to be grumpy and sluggish every single winter, I don’t think it should be dumbed down to as if I’m making a simple decision. Skinny jeans or leggings? That’s a decision. Happy or cranky? That’s a bit more complicated, thankyouverymuch.

So in my quest to combat me morphing into a seasonal sloth, I’ve started taking advantage of light therapy. The point of a light therapy device is that it mimics outdoor light…thought to then cause a chemical change in your brain to lift your mood and ease other symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. The Mayo Clinic explains it pretty well, if you want more info.

Onto the good stuff: how it’s worked for me so far. The Happy Light 6000, an incredibly bright lamp device, now sits on my desk at work. A few rants and raves about it:

Rants:

  • It’s super bright…like, let’s-stare-into-the-sun bright. Even though I followed the instructions to have it sitting a few feet off to the side of my computer in my peripheral vision and I have it on the lower setting, it’s still taken some time to get used to.
  • Some light therapy devices supposedly only need to be on for 30 minutes or so, while this one instructs you to have it on for a couple hours. I struggle to leave it on for more than 90 minutes. You know, since it’s so bright.

Raves:

  • I think the Happy Light works, at least a little bit. Even though I have to turn it off sooner than the instructions say, I do still feel like I’m getting the benefit of the light therapy. I never dread turning it on in the morning! It’s something I look forward to when I get into work.
  • It’s a stable, slim lamp that is super easy to use. Yeah you have to plug it in, but there’s nothing fussy about this thing.
  • The bright light is such a great way to trick myself on the really dark, gloomy mornings. Whether or not the Happy Light helps produce those happy brain chemicals, I still do enjoy the immediate distraction from the ugly weather at the very least.

There are lots of other things you can do to fight the winter blues, which you can read about in our Mood Boosters section.

This FITNESS piece on 7 Everyday Therapies for Cabin Fever is good too!

Anyway. Overall, my review of The Happy Light is positive…because it makes me happy! Not “Full House” happy, but definitely happier than my average winter morning mood. Anyone else out there curious about light therapy? Leave your comments below!