Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal Affective Disorder and Light Therapy

Badger Lite Company has assembled UL Listed fluorescent fixtures since 1954. Our SUNRISE 10,000™ light therapy fixture is a desk top unit measuring 1 ft. x 2 ft. x 3.5 in. It combines the latest electronic ballast technology with high intensity compact fluorescent lamps and an ultraviolet blocking lens for use in the treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.). The electronic ballast provides flicker free performance and long fixture life. The use of three long life high intensity compact fluorescent lamps assures a light level approaching 10,000 lux, the recommended level for S.A.D. light therapy treatment. Although these fluorescent tubes only produce minimal levels of ultraviolet light, the UV blocking lens (PLEXIGLAS UVA-5) provides an extra layer of protection. Our warranty covers every component for 3 years from the time of purchase. We guarantee repair or replacement of any part that becomes inoperative in our S.A.D. light therapy fixture during the warranty period. In addition, we will repair or replace parts, with no labor charge, for the life of the fixture.

Seasonal Affective Disorder aka “winter depression” or “winter blues” impacts an estimated 5-10% of Americans each year from September to April due to shorter daylight hours and lack of sunlight during winter, particularly in December, January and February. It occurs throughout the northern and southern hemispheres, but is extremely rare in those living near the Equator. Research by doctors, scientists, and universities has discovered S.A.D. is a biochemical imbalance in the hypothalamus which interrupts the body’s production of Melatonin & Serotonin and the body clock’s natural circadian rhythms of rest and activity.

For many people, S.A.D. is a seriously disabling illness, preventing them from functioning normally without continuous medical treatment. For others, it is a mild but debilitating condition causing discomfort, but not severe suffering. SAD symptoms disappear in spring, either suddenly, with a short period of hyperactivity, or gradually, depending on the intensity of sunlight in the spring and early summer. S.A.D. may begin at any age, but the main age of onset is 18–30, and appears in 3 times as many adult women vs. men or children. There is also some clinical evidence it is inherited.

Most sufferers show signs of a weakened immune system during the winter, and are more vulnerable to infections and other illnesses at that time. The symptoms of S.A.D. usually occur regularly each winter. A diagnosis by a qualified medical professional can be made after three or more consecutive winters of symptoms and we strongly recommend that a qualified medical professional examine and properly diagnose Seasonal Affective Disorder before light therapy treatment begins; a medical diagnosis may also qualify light therapy equipment for reimbursemnt under some insurance plans.

Symptoms include some or all of the following:

  • Sleep Problems: Oversleeping and difficulty staying awake; Disturbed sleep or early morning waking.
  • Lethargy: Feelings of fatigue and inability to carry out a normal routine.
  • Anxiety: Tension and inability to tolerate stress.
  • Overeating: Craving for carbohydrates and sweet foods usually resulting in weight gain.
  • Depression: Feelings of misery, guilt, low self esteem, hopelessness, despair, apathy, or loss of feelings.
  • Social Problems: Irritability and desire to avoid social contact.
  • Loss of Libido: Decreased interest in sex and physical contact.
  • Mood Changes: In some sufferers, extremes of mood and short periods of overactivity in spring and autumn.

Light therapy has proven effective in up to 85% of diagnosed cases. Exposure for up to 2 hours per day to very bright light, at least ten times the intensity of ordinary household lighting and closer in color temperature to natural daylight, is recommended.

Home lighting averages 50-150 lux (5-15 footcandles) at 2700°k warm white color temperature. Office lighting averages 200-1000 lux (20-100 footcandles) at 3500-4100°k cool white color temperature. The recommended level of light for the treatment of S.A.D. symptoms is 2500-10,000 lux (250-1000 footcandles) at 5000°k-6500°k full spectrum balanced non-UVB daylight color temperature.

Light therapy should be used daily in winter starting in early autumn when the first symptoms appear. It consists of sitting for 30-45 minutes during the morning, typically 18-24 inches away from a specially designed light fixture such as our SUNRISE 10,000™, usually placed on a table, allowing the light to angle directly into the eyes. It can also include performing daily household or office activities for approx 2-3 hours under special full spectrum balanced fluorescent tubes installed in existing home & office lighting fixtures. The user does their normal activities while in front of or under the fixture: eg. reading, writing, knitting, eating. It is not necessary to stare directly at the light fixture although it has been proven to be safe. Treatment is usually effective within 3-4 days and the effect continues provided it is used every day. Tinted lenses, sunglasses, or any device which blocks the light to the eyes should not be worn.

Recent reports from Fordham University, New York also show that sleeping – or at least sitting quietly – in total darkness from 10PM to 3AM is as important to correcting circadian rhythms as light therapy. The combination of total nighttime darkness and then morning light therapy may prove to be particulary beneficial to some sufferers of S.A.D. This means the use of light blocking shades or drapes over windows (even those old sleeping masks you remember seeing in TV and movies from the 40’s and 50’s) to stop any street lighting or other outdoor landscape or building lighting. This also includes the use of only red nightlights in bathrooms and hallways for those who wake during the night. This research suggests that use of white or clear or blue/green nightlights, while attractive, may easily disrupt or reverse any potential help acheived as part of darkness therapy. One simple solution is to substitute red C7 bulbs (from holiday tree-trimming light strings) in all your nightlights.

For more information on Seasonal Affective Disorder, please visit these websites: