Written by: Arnold Bloom
Do you suffer from seasonal affective disorder ? If you or a loved one do, this article will be of particular use to you.
During January and February, in parts of the world where it is winter, it will get completely dark by 5.30 pm. This has been the reason why millions of people in these areas of the world suffer from depression during this time which is common enough that it has been given its own name, seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Studies suggest that shorter days where this is exposure to a lot less natural light can have very adverse effects on the health of an individual, both physically and mentally. There are certain properties of certain wavelengths of light and they are known to produce a direct effect on the body. Especially the immune system and also is a primary support of a healthy inflammation response system. Natural light also affects the circadian rhythm of the body, which is in essence the body’s own internal clock. So not getting the right doses of natural light can have a lot of adverse effects on your health.
Treatments that make use of natural light can really affect your energy levels and your sleep as well. In this article, we will try to talk about specifically using red light therapy as a means of adding a bit more light in those dark days of winter. This is also the time of the year when SAD is most common. We will also go through the finding of many studies that were on red light therapy and its use in mental health.
How Does Red Light Therapy Work?
These types of red light therapy, in essence, turbocharges the mitochondria in the cells and as a result, it produces a chemical reaction in the body which is then able to fully capitalize on its energy production capacities, especially of the adenosine triphosphate type. This is basically what the body uses daily to function properly and is responsible for ensuring performance, healing, recovery, sleep etc. There are reputable studies that are proposing that this type of therapy is useful in treating depression as well.
This type of therapy can also improve your cellular environment. It does this by cutting down the oxidative stress which in turn helps improve the cellular respiration process.What this means is that the therapy is supplying the body with more natural light just as prolonged exposure to the sun would also do.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?
Seasonal affective disorder is basically one kind of depression that has kind of a seasonal pattern. What usually happens is that during the dark and cold winter months, people get this type of depression which can be quite debilitating. Although not common, some people also experience SAD during spring and summer too.
There are quite literally millions of people who get affected by this type of depression and also many of those who might not get SAD, may also experience some negative effects of lower exposure to natural light. So getting that extra bit of light through some other methods may be very helpful for all involved.
Treatment Options For SAD
You most likely have heard of lamps that go by the name of “SAD lamps” that try to mimic the sun with its own very bright and artificial light. These devices can really help make a dark space brighter and also help it give off the impression that there is a lot of natural light in the room. What ought to be realized, however, is the fact that this is still a very large dosage of blue light. Prolonged exposure to this can cause the circadian rhythm to shift and can even be the reason for fatigue.
If the therapy device you are using is of higher quality, you will be able to get more real and natural light into your home during the dark times of winter. If you have a device that is of proper quality you can get the full amount of natural sunlight in as little as 10-15 minutes of therapy. The fact that red light therapy is so easy to use and also because there have not been any reports of dangerous side effects till now, you can expect this therapy model to become a mainstream treatment for seasonal affective disorder. In fact, a lot of physicians have already started prescribing this therapy as a means of dealing with depression.
Sleep, depression and red light therapy
Sleep has become a huge topic of discussion in health circles. It is absolutely fundamental to our health and well being, and also because almost everyone at one point or another will experience some sort of difficulty with sleep. The quality of our sleep has a direct effect on our happiness and that in turn has a direct effect on our success. So, in essence, good sleep is of great importance if you want to be at your absolute best.
It really should come as no surprise that poor sleep has been linked with depression. People who suffer from insomnia and other major kinds of sleep disturbance quite regularly report feeling depressed and a whole lot of them have been diagnosed with major depression. A lot of studies also point to the fact that people who have issues with sleep are much more likely to report mood disorders.
The relationship between poor sleep and feeling depressed have been well documented. For many experiencing depressive symptoms the common denominator has been some sort of issue with their sleep patterns.
Red light therapy has been known to treat a lot of the symptoms of SAD and depression in general. A lot of studies have shown that there is a direct link between not getting enough natural light and feeling depressed. This therapy allows one to get the recommended amount of light into their bodies even in the very cold and dark times of winter.