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Seasonal depression

Halifax public libraries offer light therapy lamps

Library goers can use sunlight-mimicking lamps to help combat seasonal depression

3 min read
caption Library spokesperson Kathleen Peverill tests out Alderney Gate’s SAD lamp.

Halifax Public Libraries is providing light therapy lamps for the winter season starting Thursday.

The lamps mimic sunlight to fight seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Each library branch will offer two SAD lamps to visitors: a small portable one that can be checked out like a library book and a larger one for library guests to use on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Most branches will have stations set up with a lamp and instructions for use. The Halifax Central Library will have two lamps at its branch.

“When daylight savings times ends, and the days tend to get darker, we find that a fair amount of people experience winter blues,” said Kathleen Peverill, director of public service for Halifax Public Libraries.

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The winter blues, which is another name for SAD, affects 15 per cent of Canadians, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association. Two to three per cent of Canadians experience the depression more severely.

Requests from the public for light therapy lamps, and inspiration from other Canadian libraries sparked the initiative, said Peverill. She first looked to the Toronto Public Library, which started offering light therapy lamps in February. She said the lamps in Toronto were “wildly successful.”

The glow of a light therapy lamp is strong. Sunglasses are not required when using the light, but it’s recommended not to look directly at it. Anyone using the lamp is supposed to sit about two feet away and limit its use to about 20 to 30 minutes.

Peverill tried the lamp out and was struck by how much it feels like daylight. She said it’s a completely different feeling from the usual fluorescent lights of the library. She expects others will enjoy the lamp as much as she did.

“We hope that it will help people feel good on a dark day,” said Peverill.

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