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large light is bet­ter than a teeny-weeny one — I rec­om­mend light boxes be at least 1 foot square, maybe more.” He also rec­om­mends check­ing for brands that have been used in clin­i­cal re­search, as a mea­sure of qual­ity.

Some re­searchers have sug­gested that a DIY ap­proach to light ther­apy can be hit or miss, in part be­cause it’s hard to know ex­actly how much light you’re get­ting. Rosen­thal says that try­ing light ther­apy on your own is fine, but he sug­gests read­ing up to make sure you un­der­stand how to use the light box to its great­est ef­fect.

It’s im­por­tant that the light be used in the morn­ing, when it is most ben­e­fi­cial, and that it is used con­sis­tently. “If you skip a day, that’s prob­a­bly OK,” he says. “But skip two days, and symp­toms will start to come back. As you be­come aware that the light is help­ing you and mak­ing you more en­er­getic, it be­comes like brush­ing your teeth — you don’t skip a day brush­ing your teeth.”

Per­haps the most im­por­tant step in fight­ing SAD, how­ever, is the first one: just get started. “In­ter­vene as soon as it’s hav­ing an im­pact on your qual­ity of life or func­tion,” Rosen­thal says. “If you’re slug­gish, find­ing it hard to get your­self go­ing, of­ten it’s a cog­ni­tive is­sue.”

Get in touch with friends, start mak­ing plans and get mov­ing quickly to stop the symp­toms be­fore win­ter and de­pres­sion take hold.

And, in spite of the temp­ta­tion to “fall back” now that day­light sav­ing time has ended, dig your­self out from un­der those cov­ers and treat your reti­nas to some sun­light. “Sleep­ing in,” Rosen­thal says, “is very bad for peo­ple with the win­ter blues.”

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