More Than Just SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)
Although light therapy is most often used to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder it can be an effective treatment for many types of issues. Light therapy is essentially a treatment of the body’s circadian rhythms, it works by triggering the brain’s chemical response to light. This stimulates serotonin levels that help the body to regulate its sleep schedules. It also alleviates stress and fatigue. Serotonin behaves similarly to medications like Prozac that are used to treat different types of depression. As a result, it may very well have an effect on non-seasonal depressions, some mental disorders, and circadian rhythm disorders as well as SAD.
Proof of this comes in studies that show patients who were hospitalized for depression were able to leave up to three days sooner when their rooms faced the direction of the morning sun. Other studies show that light therapy provided in low doses with the help of a physician can be one of the safest available treatments for bipolar disorders. It has also been tested for use in softening the effects of graveyard shifts and jet lag. All of these disorders are related to the same lack of serotonin that causes SAD. For that reason, they can all be treated by the application of specifically timed doses of light therapy which works to keep the body’s rhythms and the brain’s chemicals in balance.