Light Therapy for Depression

What is Light Therapy for Depression?

Light Therapy for Depression: Overview

Depression light therapy is a depression treatment that consists of exposing a depressive person to bright full-spectrum light that is at least 10 000 lux or higher in order for treatment to be effective.

This therapy is used for treating seasonal depression (Seasonal Affective Disorder).

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

SAD is similar to recurrent major depression (Major Depressive Disorder) even though it may have atypical features.

Atypical features include increased appetite and weight gain as opposed to loss of appetite and weight loss, oversleeping rather than suffering from insomnia, and agitation instead of feeling slowed down.

Since it is believed that the cause of seasonal affective disorder is light deprivation, light therapy is logical therapeutic approach for this type of depression.

Sunlight deprivation disrupts our biorhythms, which in addition causes depression. This belief is supported by many observations such as, SAD is decidedly more common in parts of the world that are more deprived of sunlight.

In addition, condition of people with seasonal affective disorder improves when they travel to a southern location. Finally, light therapy has been very successful in treating people with SAD.

Light Therapy for Depression Guidelines:

• For light therapy to be effective light has to be full spectrum light and it has to be at least 10 000 lux. Full spectrum light means that light is the same color spectrum as sunlight which is essential. Other types of light will not work.

• The distance between your eyes and the light box is of great importance. Full spectrum light boxes need to be placed close enough for you to get intense exposure (check the instructions that came with your unit to see exactly the distance your eyes should be from the light box)

• Length of time intervals you are exposed to the light box is very important. You need to be exposed to the light box for up to an hour every morning and for thirty minutes in the afternoon.

• You can read, play an instrument or watch TV during the time you are sitting in front of the light as long as you glance at the light box from time to time.

Light Therapy for Depression, Mitts:

• Any bright light cannot be used as light therapy for depression. Tanning beds do not provide light therapy. If you try treating your depression with inappropriate light source the only thing you can achieve is hurting your self physically and psychologically.

• Light therapy cannot be used as a treatment for all types of depression because not all types of depression are caused by light deprivation.

• Light therapy is rarely a sole answer for seasonal affective disorder. Depression can be caused by light deprivation, but that does not mean that being exposed to appropriate light source will make your life depression free. In most cases, psychotherapy is needed for full recovery and preventing depression from reoccurring.

Light Therapy for Depression: How successful is it?

Many studies are done to test light therapy to see how it works in treating depression. One study was done in Canada on one hundred patients who suffered from winter depression (SAD).

One half of them were assigned to take antidepressants and another half was assigned to the standard light box. The outcome of this study was quite surprising.

Light therapy did slightly better than antidepressants. This is good to know if you suffer from seasonal depression, because you have one more alternatives to antidepressants.

Light Therapy for Depression Conclusion:

Many people have a dramatic positive response to bright light therapy. Light therapy can be used alone for reliving the patient from his or her symptoms so that he or she can participate in psychotherapy or together with antidepressants. When used properly light therapy can be of great help in depression treatment.

If you suffer from seasonal depression (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and your days are dark and gloomy, it is time to bring some light in your life.

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