I Just Bought a SAD Lamp, AMA

Today I finally gave in and spent $100 on a weird-looking lamp that might (probably won’t?) work. But if it does work, imagine what a bargain $100 will feel like!

Whether I have seasonal affective disorder or just grew up in Florida is certainly up for debate — maybe some of you want to read my journal and let me know what you think? — but I do hate winter and I do hate my life in the winter, and certain close family members have been genuinely diagnosed with SAD, so after telling the 30th person on gchat that I was “doing ok” and “totally over winter” and joking that I wanted to buy a SAD lamp, I BOUGHT A SAD LAMP.

I’m feeling better already.

Although, has anyone ever bought one of these / do they work? Perhaps I should have asked you this before spending $100. My line of thinking was honestly this:

1. Think of all the things you waste $100 on!
2. Think of all the meals you cook when you are less sad, and all the money you’ll save.
3. Cheaper than a trip to Mexico.
4. Cheaper than visits to a therapist.
5. I would definitely pay $100 on the off chance I hate everything marginally less.
6. Free shipping! It practically pays for itself.

So in approximately eight business days, you can picture me writing these blog posts under both a humidifier and a SAD lamp, living my best life. I will certainly let you know how it goes.

Photo: Newsbie Pix


26 Comments / Post A Comment

My fiancee has one and he says that he finds it super helpful. I keep meaning to also try it out, but then I don’t get around to it.

Marge (#4,715)

My mom bought me an inexpensive but well reviewed one for Chanukah. I have a hard time remembering to use it in the morning, so I find it most useful to spend 15 minutes in front of it when I get home from work so that I don’t waste my entire evening in a fatigued haze. It said in the directions that I should not use it within 3 hours of my usual bedtime so I won’t use it past 7 pm. On the weekend I use it during the day when I’m cleaning the kitchen or doing dishes so I can place it next to me on the counter. I think it’s working, I’m not sure if it’s the placebo effect or what but I feel like I get way more done in the evening if I use the light, rather than just get home from work and crash. It’s hard to say. I still think there’s no substitute for actual daylight but that’s tough to come by in the winter, especially commuting by subway.

E$ (#1,636)

@Marge “waste my entire evening in a fatigued haze” — this is me EXACTLY. Maybe I need one of these! I feel like it takes strenuous effort not to burrow into the couch and never come out.

@Marge What is this “inexpensive but well reviewed one?”

samburger (#5,489)


I once lived where there is not even a little sun and my SAD lamp was such a lifesaver. It didn’t make winter fun, but it helped me sleep 10 hours a night instead of 14!!!

Meaghano (#529)

@samburger This is very encouraging! (Also I slept 12 hours Friday night)

Kthompson (#1,858)

I don’t have one, but I have friends who do, and they swear by it. Supposedly it really makes a difference for them.

E$ (#1,636)

I have almost bought one of these many times. But this winter is extra draining and it may be a necessity now. Let us know if it helps!

DebtOrAlive (#5,233)

@E$ Wait wait wait. It’s not just me? I mean, I know I’m from a warm weather state, but this isn’t my first New York winter, so I was wondering why lately I’ve been feeling like the blobfish looks.

aetataureate (#1,310)

@DebtOrAlive I don’t know why either but yes. It is the actual worst winter I can remember.

amardine (#2,951)

I love my SAD lamp! It has made winter SO much more tolerable. Use it right when you wake up; it has the benefit of helping regulate your sleep cycle as well (although sometimes this is no fun because my natural night owl self doesn’t like getting sleepy at 10pm on a Saturday).

flannery (#5,799)

I got a huge one from a hoarder on Craigslist at the beginning of fall and I think it’s working? I still have the urge to take naps during the day sometimes but not for, like, 5 hours, and I don’t walk around in the same haze I used to. I also made a small switch-up in my antidepressants at the beginning of the season, though, so I don’t totally know how much of the change is the pharmaceuticals and how much, if any, is the light’s doing.

My doctor also referred me to this quiz http://www.cet-hosting.com/limesurvey/index.php?sid=61524 which apparently helps you figure out what the best time is for you to use the lamp and which is a neat idea in theory except mine told me 7am and that is not happening anytime soon, so.

Meaghano (#529)

@flannery That is fascinating! And it told me I need to do it at 6:45am. I wake up at 9. Hoo boy.

pixiesuperhero (#3,951)

I join the chorus of loving my lamp. I think whether you use it in the morning or evening depends on what your problem is. I forget the rule but the literature that comes with the lamp should explain it. I use mine in the morning. I don’t think I could live without it.

Meaghano (#529)

@pixiesuperhero Ooh I hope it works for me, even a little.

ThatJenn (#916)

I have one but haven’t used it in a while, BUT I bought a nice sunrise alarm clock for a similar amount (not like clinical SAD lamp spectrum but still gives me light in the morning) and it seriously reduces how much I yearn to live out my days in a safe, warm cocoon of depression.

I do need to break out the SAD lamp for use when the sun goes away here (much more rarely than in Oregon where I bought it, because I now live in Florida), especially now that I work in a sad windowless office and often have to skip lunch and/or breaks when I might otherwise see the sky.

aetataureate (#1,310)

I completely believe in them, but I’m also very curious why there’s such a “LOL you guys” tone to this post, like you’re embarrassed or . . . I don’t know?

Allison (#4,509)

@aetataureate probably because many of us have been conditioned to believe that our bad moods/blahness are our own fault/personal failing so looking for an outside solution seems silly.

Meaghano (#529)

@Allison Maybe subconsciously! Or probably, on some level. But at least intent-wise it was more dubiousness that something like this would work — I’ve never talked to anyone who actually bought one and kind of thought they were a gimmick. I guess they seem too good to be true? But now hearing from everyone makes me wish I got one sooner!

aetataureate (#1,310)

@Meaghano My college in Wisconsin had a room dedicated to SAD lamp in the Health Center! I thought science pretty much agreed that it was medicine at this point.

As homework I’m prescribing the season 5 Northern Exposure episode “Una Volta in L’Inverno” where the town gets SAD lamp visors. That episode is from 1994.

Meaghano (#529)

@aetataureate Um, that sounds amazing. I will watch it!

aetataureate (#1,310)

@Meaghano I won’t spoil it for you but it takes a Very Special Episodey twist in a uniquely Northern Exposure way.

it absolutely works!! I have SAD, and since i was a teenager my winters have been horrible, just miserable depressed anxiety filled messes, where I just want to sleep and cry all the time. And when spring and summer arrives I suddenly wake up thinking ‘who was that person??”.
I finally bought a SAD lamp last year and have been using it this winter and the change is unbelievable. I feel like my normal self! Everyone around me has noticed this as well. No idea if it’s just a placebo effect or not, but it WORKS so i don’t care!

cmcm (#267)

I didn’t realize I needed one… but now maybe I must also buy myself a SAD lamp? Will it help me get out of bed in the morning? Because if I set my alarm for earlier than 8 am, I lie there starting at my phone (or the ceiling) for about half an hour before dragging my sorry ass to the shower. I am le tired. And I get 8 hours of sleep every night.

I have a small one that lives on my desk at work, and I use it every morning when I sit down at my desk and work through my first cup of coffee (because this is the most convenient time for me). It is one of the best things I have ever spent money on, hands down. But that is largely because I have a mood disorder that gets WAYYYY worse in the dark months, and it is the difference between being a functional adult human being for these 4-5 months and being a depressed, hollow shell of a person on a slew of meds that gave me nasty side effects, so YMMV?

I suspect that what you get out of (regularly using as intended) a SAD light will directly correlate to severity of symptoms, but I’ve never heard of anyone feeling WORSE from using one.

It makes me happier just having it on! And it’s not placebo. I mean, I haven’t done a clinical trial, but it’s not subtle enough to be placebo. I think. Probably.

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