CLAWSON, Mich. — As Michiganders, we’re used to cold, cloudy, dreary winter days. But add the pandemic to the mix, and the so-called “winter blues” can take on a whole new meaning. Some people turn to light therapy to help. I talk with a professional counselor for her recommendations so you don’t waste your money.
Long winter days with little-to-no sunshine can take a toll on us here in the Great Lakes State.
Some people may feel a little down; others may even be diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or seasonal depression.
“It’s been reported that anywhere from 20 to 40 percent of people in Michigan are often affected by some form of winter blues,” said Shazia Siddiqi – a licensed professional counselor and board certified art therapist in Clawson.
I interviewed Shazia Siddiqi at the start of the pandemic in March of 2020 about how art therapy can help if you're feeling stressed.
She said if you’re feeling depressed, talk with your doctor or mental health professional to see what course of treatment they recommend.
Light therapy is one option that Siddiqi uses during therapy sessions and in her own home.
“I have my own lamp which I do use often. For me, I have really small children, and sometimes I just can’t go outside. It’s hard! And, so, being able to use a lamp like while I am at home, it can actually be really helpful,” explained Siddiqi.
I asked on facebook if people had ever used a light therapy lamp.
Debra Todd posted:
"I do. I thrive in the warmth and sunny summer! I use a light I ordered on amazon and I almost always feel lighter. I suffer from depression anyway so this is a safe and free remedy for me!”
One mom in Birmingham shared with me a picture of the new lamp her teenager started using recently.
And Angela Zetta posted about a Michigan company in Jackson – Full Spectrum Solutions – which makes a variety of light therapy lamps.
“I have bluemax floor and desk lamps. They have other options too.”
Shazia Siddiqi said if you decide to buy a light therapy lamp, make sure you look for one that delivers light at 10,000 Lux.
“What I recommend is always look for ones that don’t have UV light -- like this one -- the Happylight [Compact by Verilux] that I have is actually UV light free because you actually want to prevent any skin and eye damage when using these lights,” Siddiqi said, holding up the light she usually keeps by her desk.
At the time of this report, we found the Happylight VT 10 Portable Light Box on amazon for $29.99.
Siddiqi also recommended the Circadian Optics Light Therapy Lamp -- which as of this date retails on amazon for $35.99.
Her most affordable recommendation is the Miroco Light Therapy Lamp in Wood Grain which -- at the time of this report -- is on sale for $25.90.
“When you use a lamp for about 30 minutes every day – and as early in the morning as possible -- it can actually help alleviate your symptoms of seasonal depression,” Siddiqi explained.
“Given how helpful they are during times like this, I highly recommend them!” she added.
Again, talk with your doctor first if you’re feeling depressed or think you might have seasonal affective disorder.
Light therapy lamps do not cure depression.
Siddiqi said these light therapy lamps may ease your symptoms of depression because they are a great supplement for sunlight, but they do not replace getting natural sunlight.
So, if you have time to bundle up and get outside on a sunny winter day, she recommended you go for it.