Very few people have reported mild side-effects from light treatment. These are not dangerous. Compared to the unpleasant side-effects of antidepressant drugs, the side effects of light therapy are minimal. Another factor which works in favor of the light therapy is that the side-effects, if there are any, are usually temporary, and can generally be remedied by reducing exposure time. It is found that various persons have their own threshold for light therapy. Find yours and stay below the limit and you will be fine.
Some of the most common initial side-effects of light therapy are headaches, eye irritation (itching or stinging), and slight nausea the beginning of treatment. Usually these effects subside a few hours after treatment is finished. They generally disappear altogether after several exposures. Unless you are in extreme discomfort, it is worth putting up with minor irritations for a few days, (make sure you consult a specialist before proceeding with the treatment) until you adapt to the light. If, after four days, the irritation persists or becomes worse, sit a little further away from the light box, reduce your exposure, and consult a professional trained to treat SAD.
The most dramatic side effect, which occurs quite infrequently, is a switch to an overactive state, during which one may have difficulty sleeping, become restless or irritable, and feel speedy or "too high." People who have experienced such states in late spring or summer are particularly vulnerable, and guidance by a skilled clinician in the use of light therapy is especially important. If eye irritation persists, it can be alleviated by sitting farther from the lights, using them for shorter periods, or by installing a humidifier.
Some people report disturbing sensations of visual glare under bright light therapy, which can be alleviated by use of a tilted light box design. A major source of visual glare is short-wavelength blue light, which is a component of the white light used for therapy. If this bothers you, use specially designed eyeglass lenses to screen out the blue light without appreciable affecting the intensity of the light entering the retina.
It is possible that you may become depressed during a cold or viral infection. Light therapy could at this time cause irritation. However, soon after the infection or virus has cleared up, the positive effects of the light will return.
If you have an eye or skin condition which is affected by bright light you should consult a doctor before embarking on light therapy. If you are suffering from disorders such as glaucoma, cataracts, retinal detachment, retinopathy, do not undergo the bright light treatment. The bright light could worsen the eye problem or cause a rash in a skin condition. If you suffer from hypertension, diabetes or have any history of eye disease in the family, seek medical advice before starting light therapy.
Next Topic: Other Benefits of Light Therapy
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