SAD lights boost winter sales
YARMOUTH, Maine - Light therapy for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) has been around for more than 20 years, but many HME providers have only recently turned to SAD lights to increase their retail offerings.
"It has been a very good item for us," said Jesse Riggleman, who began selling SAD lights at Kittanning, Pa.-based Armscare last year. "This is the prime season for them."
SAD is a disorder in which people experience symptoms of depression in response to changes in light, particularly the shorter days during winter months.
SAD lights work by replacing that light, therefore improving mood, said Dr. Larry Epstein, chief medical officer at Brighton, Mass.-based Sleep HealthCenters.
"The relationship between light exposure and mood has been known for quite a while," said Epstein. "There's very good data to show (using SAD lights) is equivalent to what you'd get treating SAD with medication."
As with other durable medical equipment, the look and feel of SAD lights have improved over the years, increasing their selling power, said Jim Greatorex, president of Portland, Maine-based Black Bear Medical.
"They used to be big and ugly," said Greatorex. "You can still get something like that, if you want, but now there's a significant variety, like nice desk lamps and lights designed for portability."
While some insurers will pay for SAD lights, which cost between $150 and $200, users typically pay for them out of pocket, Greatorex said. He estimates he sells more than 200 SAD lights each year, mostly in November and December.
There is no one type of customer who buys SAD lights, say providers, although people will often come in to buy one for their spouse. Riggleman has also sold lights to pregnant women and people diagnosed with bipolar disorder, he said.
"I'm always looking for new ideas, new things to help patients enhance their quality of life," he said.