Bright lamps available at library

  • Nov. 5, 2013 12:00 p.m.

submitted article–On a sunny day we can often sense a shift in people’s mood, just like a grey and rainy day might bring on feelings of gloom. Most people are able to meet the challenges of daily life, while for others symptoms of depression will make this much more difficult. According to Dr. Robert Levitan from the Canadian Centre for Addiction and Mental Health about 2-5 percent of Canadians suffer from a severe clinical form of seasonal depression while 10-15 percent experience a milder form called SAD, seasonal affective disorder. Many Canadians experience the “winter blues”, as a sense that things aren’t as positive around this time of year. “Winter blues” is a bit of a misnomer, as there is a rarer form which begins in late spring or early summer. Seasonal depression occurs in about 80 percent of women, with men accounting for the remaining 20 percent. In winter, many people do not have access to the same quality of light as they might have in the summer. While exercise is beneficial as prevention prior to symptoms taking hold, exercising indoors away from natural light sources may not be sufficient to keep depressive symptoms at bay. Treatments for seasonal depression include light therapy, antidepressant medication or tryptophan- a natural substance prescribed in pill form. If you experience symptoms including oversleeping, lethargy, apathy, craving carbohydrates, irritability, avoidance of social situations, make an appointment with a physician to determine if light therapy might be of help to you. Day-Light is an electrical device that some people have found beneficial with use of 20-30 minute per day in the early morning. The manufacturer cautions individuals against staring into the light, and has tips for adjusting the angle and height. These lamps are available locally through the pharmacy, but if you would like to try one out, you can ask for a loaner through Mental Health or head to the library. At the suggestion of local physician Caroline Schooner, the Mental Health and Addictions Advisory Committee, an all-islands volunteer group, has purchased Day-Lights, also known as sad lamps, for each of the branches of the Vancouver Island Regional Library. The committee strongly suggests that you consult with your doctor if you a have preexisting eye or skin condition, bipolar disorder, or suffer from migraines. Light therapy is contraindicated with some prescription drugs or if you take St. John’s Wort (Hypericum). Tom Oord, former committee chair, is shown with VIRL staff member Lorelee Parker. Please find instructions for proper use and setup next to the lamp.

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