The bottom line
You’ve probably heard about light boxes. Some people get depressed in the winter because they’re stuck indoors without regular access to sunshine. Light therapy is an easy way to address this issue, and has been shown to be effective in many studies.
Why might light therapy help with depression?
Think about how you live most of your life inside rather than outside, and the connection will become quite clear.
If you ever go camping, you might experience being waked up by a huge burning orb in the sky instead of an alarm clock. It’s only because of our evil bosses that we have to get up super early. Not exactly “rise and shine”, huh? The natural cycle of waking up to sunshine and falling asleep not too long after the sun sets is imprinted in our brains, and has effects on most body processes. Modern man has done all he can to circumvent circadian cycles with bright TVs, laptops, and iPads. Try naturalizing your light exposure not only in the morning, but also at night. Turn off the computer. Read a book.
What are typical light therapy box experiences like?
Many reviews read like this one: “Within two days…my mood brightened and I started to get my initiative back.”
Others are like this: “Tried it. Did nothing, still depressed.”
The reality of depression is that it’s massively multifactorial, and you have to identify the factors that apply best to you. Light exposure is a factor that applies to a lot of people (especially those at northern latitudes), and it may or may not be one of your personal top factors.
Are there any downsides of light therapy boxes?
Just don’t stare into them for too long, directly. If you don’t do that, there shouldn’t be any major downsides other than cost. You’ll know within a week or two if there’s any positive impact.