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For most people, winter is synonymous with snow, holidays, and cozy fireplaces. For some of us, however, the wintertime is a soul-crushing slog through a seemingly endless period of sadness and lethargy.
In my case, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) manifests as a frustrating collection of contradictions: I'm either sleeping too much or not sleeping at all, eating too little or gorging on absolute trash. This is to say nothing of my general mood, which swings wildly from intense dread to irrational cheerfulness. Winter flat-out sucks when you're struggling with seasonal depression, and nothing contributes more to this than the shortage of daylight that accompanies the coldest months of the year.
Fortunately, I've discovered a reliable weapon to steel myself for the winter blues: the GoLite Blu energy light from Philips.
What the heck does this light do, and why is it blue?
The Philips GoLite Blu energy light is a small, portable lamp that emits a 100% UV-free blue light that simulates the sunlight on a sunny, blue-skied day. Unlike white lights that function similarly, the GoLite Blu produces a searingly-bright blue light for the sake of efficiency: what takes white lamps 10,000 lux to achieve can be done in 200 lux with the GoLite.
There's quite a bit of literature about the benefits of light therapy, but in a nutshell, light boxes are used—either on their own or in conjunction with medication—to combat symptoms commonly associated with seasonal affective disorder.
How do I use it?
Using the Philips GoLite is simply a matter of fitting it into your daily routine—just 20 or 30 minutes a day (preferably in the morning but never before bed) is the recommended "dose" for most people. For me, this means starting my workday with about a half-hour of sweet, sweet blue rays.
The fact that I can take the GoLite Blu to work is one of my favorite things about it. At around 1.5 pounds and just seven inches wide, this thing is ultra-portable. Although I tend to keep the GoLite plugged in throughout the duration of its use, it's worth noting that the light is rechargeable, so if you happen to forget the 10W power adapter at home, you'll still be able to get some light therapy in, provided you've got enough of a charge.
The GoLite should be placed within arms-length and bathe your entire face, or else you won't be maximizing the effectiveness of its happy rays. The happy rays are important, folks—always keep your face bathed in the happy rays.
What else do I need to know?
As with anything health related, you're going to want to clear this with your doctor before jumping right into soaking your spirit in pure, uncut blue happiness, especially if you're already being treated for depression.
Contraindications include the use of photo-sensitizing medications, bipolar disorder, or past eye-related diagnoses like cataracts, recent eye surgeries, etc. Bipolar disorder is the big one, though—if you suffer from bipolar disorder you should talk to your doc before getting involved with light therapy since it could lead to further complication.
The GoLite might also lead to temporary headaches, nausea, jitters, and just a general feeling of blah. If you happen to experience such symptoms, it's recommended that you either turn down the lamp's intensity or just stop using it for a few days.
It's also worth noting that, while I've experienced tremendous success with the GoLite, not every light therapy device is created equal, and the GoLite Blu is not approved by the FDA for treatment of seasonal affective disorder, so your mileage may vary. If you're suffering from severe seasonal depression, you should consult a doctor instead of using the GoLite as a means of self-treatment.
Seasonal affective disorder ain't fun, but I've grown to love the Philips GoLite Blu energy light and look forward to using it every morning. Right now it's on sale via Amazon for around $216, and that's not exactly cheap, but for the amount of good it does me in these cold, dark months, I'd pay a whole lot more to have it in my life every day.
Now if you don't mind, I have to go bathe my face in glorious blue rays of happiness while I wait for spring to show up.