December 2012

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live in good health When it comes to treating seasonal affective disorder, a little light can break your darkest spell. How do you make the most of the light-therapy bulbs that target winter blues? Dr. Melissa Grimm, Meriter Internal Medicine physician, offers these simple tips Brighter Times Lay on the lux. Lux is a measure of light one receives at a specifi c distance from the light source. Though lux is present in ordinary household bulbs, there's not enough of it to offer therapeutic results. For mood-boosting therapy, Dr. Grimm recommends a light box with a lux between 2,500 and 10,000. Get cozy. Light therapy involves gradually increasing the amount of time you spend sitting near the light box, with a goal of 30 minutes to two hours per day. The light box should be placed near you, but to the side so it is not directly in your eyes. You can do normal activi- ties with the light therapy such as reading, working on the computer or eating. In order to benefi t from this treatment, spend time in front of the light box every day for at least a few weeks. Make it a habit. When you fl ip on a therapy light, you are also fl ipping the switch of your body's internal cue to produce more energizing and mood-boosting chemicals such as serotonin (a pro- cess that doesn't come as naturally during the dark days of winter). To continually reap the benefi ts of this process, try to spend time in front of your therapy light every day. Favor quality. While many bulbs on the market promise to improve your mood, Dr. Grimm recommends fi nding a high-quality light pow- ered by a fl uorescent bulb to achieve the best results. Also, choose a light with a screen to block UV rays, which can have the nasty side effect of promoting aging and increasing the risk of skin cancer. Consult your physician about which light box they recommend. Don't get discouraged. Although light therapy can be as affective as anti-depressant medications for some, Dr. Grimm says there's no guarantee it will work for everyone. If it doesn't do the trick, talk to your doctor about other treatment options such as medications or counseling. Philips energy light, $597; Meriter Home Health, 2180 W. Beltline Hwy., Madison; (608) 417-3700. 12 BRAVA Magazine December 2012 Photo by Shanna Wolf

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