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  • Writer's pictureAnn Christensen


It’s time to set up your SAD light! I pulled mine out today and sat under this bright 10,000 UL light for 25 minutes. It's clunky and inelegant but I love it! The NorthStar 10,000 serves as an energy boost this time of year, and a lifeline during the depths of winter. I have SAD (Seasonal Affected Disorder) and find using this therapeutic light helps keep me mobile with an uplifted mood. About 90% of people diagnosed with depression and about 15% of those diagnosed with bipolar disorder report benefits from using an SAD light. Manufactured by a company named Northern Lights, it’s a bit pricey at $300, but is one of the few SAD lights on the market that gets high marks from the medical community. is a great website loaded with information about depression and SAD.

Excerpt from my new book, Bipolar Almanac: Create a life worth living:

“Seasonal Affected Disorder

Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD) affects a portion of individuals with bipolar. If you have a noticeable depression during winter months and bounce a bit too high during the spring, there is a possibility that you have SAD. Before you say, “Everybody feels lousy in December,” please note that SAD is a profound, disabling seasonal “down.” It is usually accompanied by having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep during the fall and winter months.

“The months when you begin and end the SAD light cycle depend on where you live. If you live in Alaska, the swing between long and short days is dramatic. I live in the middle of California and use my SAD light for 20 minutes daily from October to February. This helps me get to sleep in the evening and stay asleep throughout the night. If you choose to use the SAD light, explore how your latitude determines the best start and stop times.

“Treat the SAD light as a new medication since it affects the chemical balance in your brain. If you tend towards mania, be sure to let your doctor know that you intend to use an SAD light and communicate regularly.

“Try this

• Observe your sleep cycle for daily and seasonal shifts.

If you are in the deeper side of depression and are unable to move, call your doctor or a member of your support team and ask for help. This is serious and you need help.

• Try to move—any action, any task will do.

• Set a goal of completing three tasks per day (or one if you are feeling depressed).

• Consider purchasing a SAD light as a means of stabilizing your sleep cycle and improving your energy and mood.

• If you decide to use the SAD light, you should begin in October and inform your doctor of your plan.”


Ann Christensen is a mental wellness advocate and author of Bipolar Almanac: Create a life worth living.

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