Shopping Product Reviews

8 SAD Therapy Lights To Help With Seasonal Depression

There are a few things you can expect from the winter months: colder weather, less sunshine and possibly a case of more than just the winter blues. Often referred to as seasonal affective disorder or SAD for short, weather-induced depression can be debilitating for many, causing everything from feelings of extreme isolation to an inability to perform everyday tasks.

Fortunately, mental health-improving relief may be found in the form of SAD lamps. Hanne Hoffmann, an assistant professor of animal science at Michigan State University with a background in neurobiology, recently explained to HuffPost that our moods and physiology are quite impacted by the light we receive, and that natural sunlight exposure is often associated with “an increased sense of well-being, more energy and and an overall good mood.”

Clinically called light therapy, these UV-free lamps work by mimicking outside light, specifically bright white light (which is measured in luxes), to help manage symptoms of SAD. Hoffmann recommends sitting near a SAD lamp first thing in the morning for between 20 to no more than 90 minutes for five to seven days per week.

I got one for my father about two years ago (you can learn more about his exact model in the list below) and he personally attests to experiencing less anxiety, sadness and more motivation since he started using it. He lives in Oregon, where sunshine is an incredibly rare sight in fall and winter.

If you buy one, pay attention to its features.

“A high-quality light box will provide light at 10,000 lux when the light box is placed 12 inches or more from the eyes or face and will have a UV filter to avoid the risk of retinal damage,” Hoffmann previously said, adding that if a therapy lamp doesn’t provide 10,000 lux, longer exposure might be necessary to feel the effects.

You can learn more about about SAD lamps and Hoffmann’s light therapy guidance from our previous reporting, or, if you’re ready to feel the sunshine already (well, kind of), keep reading to see some options we chose.

HuffPost and its publishing partners may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Every item is independently selected by the HuffPost Shopping team. Prices and availability are subject to change. The experts consulted for this story do not necessarily endorse the products ahead unless otherwise noted.

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A CET-endorsed light box

SAD lamps are not regulated by the FDA, but the Center for Environmental Therapeutics is an independent non-profit dedicated to researching environmental therapies, including light therapy, for mental health benefits. One light therapy option CET endorses is this 10,000- lux light box by Northern Light Technologies that can diffuse full-spectrum and UV-blocked light to a distance of 14 inches. The tilting panel is fully adjustable and can be moved up or down to five different height settings.

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An affordable and ultra-slim light

One of the more affordable options on our list is this slim frame-style lamp that features three brightness modes up to 10,000 lux of full-spectrum light and a 49-inch screen. It also has three different timer settings and a memory function that can recall your last light settings, along with an adapter that allows the light to run off a regular charger, external power bank and even your laptop.

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A large light therapy screen

Featuring a curved 16-inch tilting screen on top of a height-adjustable stand, this full-spectrum 10,000-lux lamp projects light downward up to 12 inches, mimicking natural overhead daylight. It blocks 99.3% of UV light and also has a task light setting so it can be used as a standard lamp, not just for light therapy.

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A compact and converting therapy light

This compact and travel-ready light panel by Circadian Optics stands like a frame to deliver up to 10,000 lux of full-spectrum light and converts completely flat with the stand doubling as a cover. Users can also choose from the three different brightness settings, each one free from harmful UV.

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A retractable standing lamp

This standing lamp can extend to be a full-length floor lamp or retract to fit on desks or bedside tables, and can use either a remote control or the built-in touch-control buttons. The neck of the light is also adjustable 360 degrees and offers 10 adjustable brightness levels up to the desired 10,000 lux. There are also five color temperatures that allow this lamp to function as a soft light source when not used for therapy purposes.

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A 15,000-lux light

The highest-lux light option on our list, this frame-style therapy lamp diffuses up to 15,000 lux of UV-free light, which can be adjusted to four brightness levels and three color temperatures including warm yellow and cool white. Using the touch control buttons, users can choose from four different pre-set timers starting from 15 minutes to an hour.

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A Verilux “Happy Light”

This Verilux Happy Light is the exact model that I gifted my father and so far, he’s been incredibly pleased with its mood-boosting power. It fits perfectly on the corner of his desk and can be displayed either horizontally or vertically to best accommodate an existing space. The Happy Light delivers one straightforward setting of 10,000-lux full-spectrum light that’s both UV- and flicker-free.

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A round therapy lamp

For anyone concerned with form as much as function, this round moon-esque lamp looks great on a bedside table or desktop. It promises up to 10,000 lux of light, five brightness levels and four brightness settings, all of which can be saved using the helpful memory function.

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