The sun image by Denis Kadacki from

Photo therapy is becoming increasingly popular to promote well-being. Health care professionals such as Joseph Mercola, DO, use it to treat seasonal affective disorder, also called winter depression. Photo therapy involves the use of full-spectrum light bulbs to simulate sunlight. The FDA has not approved the marketing of photo therapy light boxes to treat SAD, and so many insurance companies do not cover the cost.

A simple photo therapy light box can be made from items you can find in your own home or otherwise purchase at a local hardware store. To make one, you need to be able to use a miter saw, wood chisel and screwdriver.

Remove the box's right side. Draw two pencil lines on the bottom of the box to mark the position of the power strips. On these lines, mark the positions for the surge protectors' mounting screws. Fasten the 1/2 inch mounting screws. The idea is to center the power strips in the box.

Cut two 1/2 inch square notches into the side of the box you have removed. To cut each notch, make 1/2 inch cuts into the wood with the miter saw. Punch out the center with the wood chisel. Place the notches where the side will meet the bottom when you reattach it, at the height of the power strip mounting screws.

Line the bottom and sides with aluminum foil, shiny side up for better reflection. Fasten the foil with glue. Slide the surge protectors onto the mounting screws. Reattach the notched panel to the box with wood screws.

Screw the bulbs into the socket adapters. Plug the adapters into the surge protectors.


The 40 Watt fluorescent full-spectrum bulbs produce 5,500 lumens, enough to simulate natural light on a summer day. Placing the bulbs closer together on your surge protectors increases the output.


Always consult a licensed physician to determine if photo therapy is the right treatment for your condition.

Use two wall sockets to plug in your light box.

About the Author

Jeva Anand

Jeva Anand began writing in 1988. He has worked as an educator, media-relations coordinator and copywriter, and collaborated with regional and national media such as "Indian Country Today." Anand holds a Master of Arts in English from the University of South Dakota. He currently works as a writer and translator.