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Light Therapy Increased My Schizoaffective Anxiety Over Time

I thought light therapy increased my schizoaffective anxiety, but I asked my doctor to be sure light therapy was the cause. Here's how I'm handling her answer.

Light therapy increased my schizoaffective anxiety but helps with my seasonal affective disorder (SAD). I am also taking vitamin D, and that plus using the light for 20 minutes every morning seemed to really help with the light deficiency of winter. But after a few weeks of light therapy, I noticed my schizoaffective anxiety was increasing. Here’s what I did about it.

Light Therapy and Increased Schizoaffective Anxiety Are Connected

I called my psychiatrist and told her I thought 20 minutes a day of the light therapy lamp was becoming too much of a good thing, making my schizoaffective anxiety spike. She said to lower the time I sit in front of the light therapy lamp to 10 minutes a day and to stop taking the vitamin D supplement. She advised either taking vitamin D or using a light therapy lamp, not both.

Even with the decreased light therapy lamp time, I was still feeling very anxious. So, on my psychiatrist’s advice, I’ve now cut it out altogether. One thing I’ve learned with schizoaffective disorder is simple–you have to be flexible. Even a light therapy lamp regimen may require adjustments in use every few weeks or months.

Why Light Therapy Can Increase Schizoaffective Anxiety

Last summer, I decreased my antidepressant because that was increasing my anxiety. One friend put it really well: she said that if something such as an antidepressant is supposed to make you alert, it makes sense that it would make you anxious if you’re already too alert. Decreasing my antidepressant last summer did decrease my schizoaffective anxiety.

When my psychiatrist suggested I start light therapy, my husband Tom predicted it might make me more anxious. He was basing this on what he’d seen in past winters with a light therapy lamp. But, in past winters, it felt so good at the start. I wanted to try it again anyway.

I Want to Avoid the Hospital This Winter

I’m trying to be really careful because February marks a year since I asked Tom to drive me to the emergency room as suicidal thoughts erupted through my mind. I participated in a mental health outpatient program to regain control. I don’t want to end up in the ER again for feeling suicidal. Both schizoaffective depression and schizoaffective anxiety can trigger these feelings.

I wound up in the hospital in 2008 around that same time of year. So, as I’m sure you can understand, I really want to find a balance in treating my SAD. This is why it’s so important that I take extra care of myself this time of year, whether it’s finding the right balance with the light therapy lamp or by doing something as simple as drinking enough water every day.

Author: Elizabeth Caudy

Elizabeth Caudy was born in 1979 to a writer and a photographer. She has been writing since she was five years old. She has a BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MFA in photography from Columbia College Chicago. She lives outside Chicago with her husband, Tom. Find Elizabeth on Google+ and on her personal blog.

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