Battling the Winter Blues with Light Therapy

We have a nor’easter coming this week. It’s not even Thanksgiving, and it seems the winter weather is back at UNH. While most of us think it’s pretty for a while, some people may experience “the winter blues,” known clinically as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Although SAD can occur at other times of year, the winter blues are the most common; doctors believe this is probably due to the lack of light in the wintertime. SAD is also most prevalent in northern parts of the globe for those reasons, as well as in younger people, making a place like UNH the perfect place for it to flourish.

UNH Health Services has tools to help you fend off SAD. Light therapy is a great resource to get yourself through the dark winter and it’s free to students, included in your tuition fees. I personally struggle with depression, and this time of year the winter depression just takes over. The experience with light therapy was wonderful.

The experience was wonderful. I would recommend sessions to anyone who misses the sun in the darker months – although if you think you may have depression or SAD, it is best to talk to a Health Services health care provider or a counselor at the UNH Counseling Center. I know I will be working Light Therapy into my weekly routine this winter.

20141119_123110Booking my appointment was really easy. I booked mine online, checking the available windows and picking one that worked for me. I checked in at my appointment time, and a Health Services staff member took me to the room and showed me how to operate the lamp. It was simple just a switch. There was a curtain around me for privacy, and some pamphlets and information about SAD and light therapy all of which can be found on Health Services website.

I sat at the desk and decided to take the advice of the sign on the wall and to do something relaxing. I pulled a book of poems by Jack Gilbert from my backpack. I spent a little over a half an hour reading poems in front of the bright yet soft light, designed to mimic sunlight. At the end I switched off the lamp and returned to my car.

I felt a little better even after my first visit. I felt more alert, awake and focused; I felt as if it were a sunny day and not a terrible, rainy, November morning.