Seasonal Affective Disorder

by Guest Blogger – Francis Sheehy, Owner, Liberty Oxygen and Medical Equipment

Much more than a case of the “winter blues”, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a medical condition, a type of depression. It affects many people who live in northern states like Minnesota, in the late fall, winter, and early spring due to the lack of sunlight during these seasons.  The Mayo Clinic defines seasonal affective disorder as a type of depression that is related to changes in seasons – SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. SAD is diagnosed more often in women, but men tend to have more severe symptoms. Most people with seasonal affective disorder feel the symptoms beginning in the fall and continue through the winter months, affecting their energy levels and overall moodiness. The good news is there are treatments to help fight this condition! One is the use of a SAD lamp so, to assist our Minnesota clients and CAREGivers who are affected by this disorder, Liberty Oxygen and Medical Equipment is offering 30% off all SAD lights during the month of January. lightbook-elite-300x240

The major cause of SAD is lack of sunlight. SAD has been referred to as many things over the years, such as winter blues, winter depression, and cabin fever. Seasonal affective disorder was made a clinical diagnosis in the early 1980′s. On average only 2% of the population has SAD, although the incidence of it goes up the farther north you live. Also, in Canada it is estimated that 20% of the population has some symptoms of SAD. Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder include:

  • Depression
  • Lack of energy
  • Increased appetite or weight gain
  • Feeling lethargic
  • Sleeping longer hours
  • Socially withdrawn
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Low sex drive

One of the methods of treating SAD is with light therapy, also called phototherapy. The therapy is provided through use of a light box or SAD light, which a person sits within two feet of for thirty minutes per day – typically first thing in the morning. The SAD light (also called a SAD lamp) emits a bright light simulating sun light, and should be a minimum of 10,000 Lux (metric measurement of light intensity). The light stimulates a receptor in the eye that in turn causes a chemical reaction in the brain linked to mood, and is believed to help reset your circadian rhythms.

Sometimes referred to as happy lights, the SAD light therapy works for people with mild to very severe seasonal affective disorder. SAD light therapy is typically covered by most insurance companies, if the individual has a diagnosis of SAD, and a prescription for light therapy from their doctor.  Also,the light box must produce 10,000 Lux. Insurance companies tend to rent the light box for the first two months, and then purchase it if the therapy is successful. Contact your insurance company for specific coverage criteria – coverage may vary. Many people purchase light boxes at their own expense because it makes them feel happier and more energetic in the winter. A doctor’s prescription is not needed to purchase a light, unless you want an insurance company to pay for it.

Liberty Oxygen and Medical Equipment provides light boxes for purchase or rental at all eight of our Twin Cities metro locations and we are a provider for most insurance companies. So don’t miss out – take advantage of our great sale which features brands such as Carex & the Litebook Elite. During the month of January, Liberty Oxygen is offering 30% off all SAD lights. If you have questions on seasonal affective disorder or SAD light therapy, contact us today. Our knowledgeable employees can help you determine if this type of therapy would be good for you.

Francis Sheehy has owned and operated Liberty Oxygen and Medical Equipment in the Twin Cities metro area since 2001. He is dedicated to the senior community and is committed to delivering medical equipment solutions to your family and senior loved ones with compassion and care in Minnesota. Home Instead Senior Care of Minneapolis and Liberty Oxygen and Medical Equipment have partnered over the years on a variety of initiatives, such as the Liberty Oxygen crown contest and Home Instead’s Alzheimer’s Friendly Business program, to offer support to the senior community and our employees. This month, we asked Francis to contribute an article for our blog. His blog site containing education for seniors and their loved ones can be found at

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