SAD light box: Should you buy a seasonal affective disorder lamp? Dr Dawn says this

SAD, or seasonal affective disorder, is usually more apparent and severe in winter, but can occur during summer.

It’s a type of depression related to changes in the seasons, for example in winter, people may feel lack of energy and experience changes in mood.

Light therapy, in the form of a light box or lamp, has increased in popularity as a remedy for the condition.

They work by creating a simulation of sunlight. The melanopsin receptors in the eyes respond to this and trigger serotonin within the brain which have become associated with feelings of well-being.

So should you invest in a SAD lamp this winter to avoid symptoms of SAD?

TV doctor Dr Dawn Harper says it’s important to first recognise the symptoms of SAD.

These can include:

  • Low mood
  • Symptoms of depression
  • Craving carbohydrates
  • Weight gain (which can then trigger low self-esteem)

The NHS also lists:

  • A loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness
  • Feeling lethargic and sleeping during the day
  • Sleeping for longer than normal and finding it hard to get up in the morning

The health body lists light therapy as one of the main treatments. But is it worth getting a SAD light box before symptoms of SAD show?

Dr Harper said: “It is worth getting ahead of the game actually.

“Check online for the right one for you. Many companies offer try before you buy, and this is definitely worth taking advantage of.”

Other treatments recommended for SAD include getting as much natural sunlight as possible, exercising regularly and managing your stress levels.

Cognitive behavioural therapy to counselling can also help, as well as antidepressant medication.

If you think you might have SAD consider seeing your GP who can carry out an assessment.

Dr Harper is currently part of a campaign to raise awareness of the risks associated with over-eating during pregnancy.

A survey carried out by Aptaclub, an early life nutrition expert, carried out a survey which found eight in ten mothers believe they can excessively overeat, which could be putting their babies at risk.

It found a third of expectant mothers stopped eating certain foods because they didn’t know whether they were safe or not, and 23 per cent wrongly think they should be consuming a whopping 21,960 extra calories over and above the recommended amount across the term of their pregnancy.

For mums-to-be, recommended calorie intake stays the same as pre-pregnancy until you reach your third trimester.

To educate mums-to-be on what they should be eating, TV doctor Dr Dawn Harper has partnered with Aptaclub to address this confusion.

Dr Harper said: “The research by Aptaclub shows that many women (35 per cent) are turning to the internet for their advice with just over a fifth (21 per cent) admitting they had no idea their diet could affect their baby’s immunity. Getting nutrition right during pregnancy is very important for expectant mothers so they need a reliable source to turn to.

“Advice on healthy eating during pregnancy has changed over the years and I often see mums to be who are confused as to what is and isn’t safe to eat when they are expecting. So, I am delighted to be working with Aptaclub to launch ‘Eating for 2’, a reliable online resource giving pregnant women all the advice they need to ensure they eat well for themselves and their unborn baby.”

Dr Dawn Harper is a brand ambassador for Aptaclub’s Eating For 2 online resource – providing expectant mums with nutritional advice during pregnancy. To find out more, visit

Another health problem that can occur during the winter months is vitamin D deficiency. Dr Harper also issued advice on whether you should be taking vitamin D supplements to prevent this