Insomnia, Snoring, Sleep Apnea

The world and life of a sleep tech

Light Therapy as an Option for Depression and SAD

Posted by amykr on December 30, 2009

Many people are looking toward ways of treating health issues without taking medication. One of more interesting alternatives to people with depression or rhythm disorders is light therapy. This therapy is not for everyone, but it gives an option to people with seasonal affective disorder, shift workers and those who might need to try different therapies in addition to traditional therapy.

Recently studies on the effects of Light Therapy have gotten a little more support. It is showing that light may have an effect on melatonin production, serotonin production and circadian rhythms. The idea is that you mimic sunlight and keep your body on the same rhythm all year long.

The first therapy is a dawn simulator that allows a person to wake up as the light gets more intense. It is a much gentler form of waking and the simulation is similar to summer light. This might help those who have a issues with the winter’s weaker light and shorter days. The idea of a gentler way to wake up also may help start the day in a calmer manner. There is very little in the way of studies for this type of therapy, however since the lights are inexpensive and there is no evidence that they are have any adverse effects.

The other source is a light box. There are several types of these including white light boxes, blue light boxes and green light boxes. The most popular currently are white and blue light. They are used in the morning based on your body’s Melatonin cycle to help to regulate your body’s Circadian rhythm. The most recent studies have found that the blue light works as well as the white light but is much smaller and portable. These lights should be up above your head for your eyes to process it properly. It should be used for 30-60 minutes depending on what is recommended for you.

There are some potential side effects to this type of therapy. You should not look into the light and it has been associated with Macular Degeneration. You can also have too much exposure which can cause mania in some people, especially those with Manic Depression.

The idea of using light to treat depression has not been pursued by many researchers currently. There are some small studies that have been shown that this can be a very effective treatment for depression. It is also a good choice for those who wish to try other therapies before trying medication. There are small, inexpensive boxes available online. Like all therapies you should discuss this with your physician or therapist before trying it.

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One Response to “Light Therapy as an Option for Depression and SAD”

  1. Well written blog post. It’s astonishing to think this is real, I’ve subscribed your feed and will be coming back. Also @above comment I agree with you, it’s precisely like that but we can’t change anything about it 😦

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