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Light Therapy Lamp

A Light Therapy Lamp is now available at the Library. Visit the Central Service Desk to find out more.

What is a light therapy lamp?

Light therapy lamps, or seasonal affective disorder (sad) lamps, mimic outdoor natural light. Late fall and winter months tend to lack sunshine, which can affect individuals in different ways -- including lowering mood, lowering energy and over sleeping. Over time, these lights are intended to improve mood and overall sense of well-being in those affected.

What is seasonal affective disorder?

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that tends to occur (and recur) as the days grow shorter in the fall and winter. It is believed that affected people react adversely to the decreasing amounts of sunlight and the colder temperatures as the fall and winter progress. Less often, sad causes depression in the spring or early summer.

Symptoms of SAD can include:

  • Change in appetite, in particular a craving for sweet and starchy foods
  • Weight gain
  • Decreased energy
  • Fatigue
  • Tendency to oversleep
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Avoidance of social situations 
  • Feelings of anxiety and despair <end bulleted list>

Treatment for SAD includes light therapy (phototherapy) and medications.

How the service works

Where can I use it?

The light therapy lamps is current available on the study table between the Fiction & Non-Fiction shelving.  It is available on a first-come, first served basis. The lamp cannot be taken out of the library.

Why does the library provide it?

Research by the Canadian Mental Health Association suggests that 2-3% of the general population of Ontario have SAD and another 15% have a less severe experience.

Light therapy lamps can be expensive to purchase. This service provides all community members with the opportunity to use light therapy if they require it.

How to use a light therapy lamp?

Turn the lamp on and sit, read or work in front of it for 20-30 minutes. For sensitive users, gradual exposure is recommended. Sit about 2 feet away. Face the lamp and allow the light to shine on your face but not directly in your eyes. Do not stare directly into the light. Adjust the angle of the lamp to suit your position.

Are the lights safe to use?

Light therapy is considered to be safe. Side effects are rare and if they occur they are usually mild and can include nausea, headaches and/or eye strain. There are no known long-term side effects of light therapy. If you experience discomfort, stop using the lamp and contact your doctor.

People with certain medical conditions (retinal disease, macular degeneration or diabetes), and those taking certain medications (melatonin, thioridazine, or lithium) should consult a doctor before using light therapy lamps.

The light therapy lamp should not be viewed as a cure, and other measures including staying fit, sleeping well and eating healthy are also very beneficial for treating the symptoms of mood disorders. Use of the lamp is at your own discretion. Huntsville Public Library is not liable for any health issues related to the use of the lamp.

Photograph of a light therapy lamp