New lamps to provide access to light therapy as winter settles in on the city
By Matthew Kondracki
Students feeling the effects of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) from the shrinking daylight hours will find help with a new tool on college campuses. New light therapy lamps imitating sunlight were installed in the Exchange District and Notre Dame campuses for students and staff to use.
SAD is a form of depression related to changes in seasons, usually beginning in fall and lasting through winter when sunlight is significantly reduced. The disorder has several symptoms, ranging from low energy, difficulty concentrating and losing interest in activities you enjoy.
As the sunlight wanes throughout the winter, the symptoms may become more severe. The Mayo Clinic states those affected may feel worthless, hopeless, or having frequent thoughts of death or suicide.
Breanna Sawatzky, mental health coordinator for Red River College who co-chairs the Healthy Minds Healthy College Steering Committee, said the new lights can help those affected by SAD while on campus for most of the day.
“People seem to appreciate the symbolism of it,” said Sawatzky. “They draw attention to daylight affecting our mood and, whether they use the lamp or not, be a visible reminder as well.”
Students not affected by the disorder, but feeling the effects of less daylight, could also benefit from using the lamps regularly.
“We anticipate if a student is using it regularly, they’re going to see an increase in their energy or a boost in their mood,” said Sawatzky.
Sawatzky said the lamps may be installed in other college campuses, depending on demand.
Bruce Locken, audio video clerk at the John & Bonnie Buhler Library in the Exchange District Campus, has seen an increase in interest of the lamps over the last week and a half.
“We’ve had a few regular users of the stationary lamp,” said Locken. “They’re surprised at first, then they’re glad we have them.”
The lamps are located at the Exchange District and Notre Dame campuses in the libraries. Staff and students can also rent smaller, portable, units for an hour at a time by speaking with A/V Service staff in the library.