What The Professionals Say About Light Therapy

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Professionals identify light therapy as the primary treatment available for Seasonal Affective Disorder for a number of reasons. During winter, the amount of light that the body is exposed to is significantly smaller than in summer months. The amount of light available in an office or other room may be as much as 500 to 1000 times less than that on a bright sunny day. An overcast or wintery day provides only one fourth of the sunlight of summer. That amount of light is hard to replace without the bright, focused spectrum used in light therapy. For those suffering from SAD symptoms, the lack of light is the main problem and this therapy is its most studied and most effective treatment.

The exposure to light therapy helps to trigger the body’s biochemical responses to daylight. These responses help to alleviate several types of depression. Therapists are now exploring the treatment of many other disorders using light therapy. Some of these include non-seasonal depression, post partum depression, obsessive-compulsive disorders, sleep disorders, and jet leg.

Doctors suggest considering light therapy as a response instead of drug treatments that may be expensive and carry unwanted side effects or complications. With proper professional support, the use of bright light therapy for as little as thirty minutes at the beginning of the day may be the very best treatment for SAD.

Light Therapy is the Best Solution for SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)

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Studies are showing that light therapy is the best treatment for sufferers of Seasonal Affective Disorder. It should be noted that this research has come a long way. Light therapy is currently the most researched treatment available for SAD and scientists continue to work at discovering the extent of its wide-ranging applications.

The advantages of light therapy in treating SAD are plain to be seen when the treatment is compared to other methods. The primary option is to treat SAD with antidepressant drugs like many other types of depression. Drugs are significantly more expensive than light therapy and they also come with the prospect of side effects. In addition, a drug like Prozac only mimics the effects of the natural serotonin production that light therapy encourages. Recent studies have confirmed that the use of light therapy to treat SAD produces stronger effects in a weeklong treatment period than Prozac can. Further studies show that when the light therapy is calibrated to the patient’s specific circadian rhythms, the response is up to twice as strong.

Light therapy is more natural and more powerful than other treatments for SAD. It is the safest, most tested, option. It is also the most efficient. Light therapy takes effect with a morning application of as little as thirty minutes and can alleviate symptoms in one to four weeks. It does this by mimicking the sunlight the body lacks and triggering an entirely natural response. There is simply no other treatment that can offer these benefits.

What the Professionals say about Light Therapy

sad lights

Light therapy is used to treat a variety of mood disorders and depression symptoms. It is believed that light affects the circadian rhythm of the body and reduces the levels of melatonin produced by the brain. This in turn reduces feelings of mental fatigue, sadness, melancholy, and postpartum depression.

The form of light used in light therapy mimics the spectrum of natural outdoor light. Essentially, it places the user in a simulated sunlight for a prescribed period of time each day, usually thirty to ninety minutes in the morning hours. Participants treated with light therapy usually report improvement in symptoms within a week of beginning treatment, and use of antidepressant medications is reduced in those patients.

Patients also generally report improvement in sleep patterns and less disruption in sleep schedules. This is likely due to the stabilization of melatonin production, allowing normal patterns to emerge wherein drowsiness occurs at night and not during daylight hours. Obviously, simply experiencing adequate sleep will in itself bring about improvement in symptoms of depression, as chronic fatigue usually adds to depression-inducing stress.

Light therapy is particularly helpful for those individuals who either cannot use chemical antidepressants, or those who simply choose not to. Patents residing in areas of the world where light is limited specifically benefit from the use of light therapy, as it simulates the natural pattern of light and darkness with which the human body most easily tunes itself. This simple and inexpensive therapy is an immensely helpful tool for depression sufferers.

Light Therapy and Post Partum Depression

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Postpartum depression affects between 6% and 12% of new mothers in the United States, and is one of the leading depression diagnoses among adult women. Because definitive causes for PPD are still being researched and therapies sought that are safe for nursing mothers, alternative methods for dealing with depression following childbirth have emerged.

Light therapy has been used extensively for sufferers of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) with some success, and is now being recommended for mothers with mild to moderate postpartum depression as well. Clinicians recommend exposure to light in a light box for a duration of thirty to ninety minutes daily during the morning hours of the day. Eye protection is worn and the patient is instructed not to focus the eyes directly on the light but to keep the eyes open. Not only does the light therapy seem to have a positive effect on alleviating depression symptoms, but unlike some of the medications on the market for treating depression, it is safe for mothers who are breastfeeding their babies.

Mothers who reside in climates prone to extended periods of darkness, such as Alaska, experience higher rates of postpartum depression, leading researchers to believe in a link between reduced light and PPD specifically. Employing light therapy in such situations has proven highly effective in bringing relief to depression sufferers. Ongoing studies and practical application should fine tune this remedy for depression, widening the options for sufferers who cannot or who choose not to use chemical pharmaceutical treatments.

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