Treating Disorders using Light therapy

Introduction of Light Therapy

There are several different alternative therapies that are used in the treatment of psychological disorders. One of the effective therapies is Light Therapy, also known as Bright therapy or Phototherapy, during which an individual is advised to sit or work near a light therapy box. The light given off by the box mimics the natural outdoor light which has been found effective in treating Major Depressive Disorders, Seasonal Affective Disorders (SAD), Sleep Disorders, etc. In this article, you will learn more about the principle behind light therapy and its many benefits.


How does Light Therapy work?

Studies show that a lack of exposure to sunlight can be responsible for the occurrence of Major Depressive Disorders and Seasonal Disorders, occurring during the fall or winter season when there is a lack of sunlight. This problem can be fixed via Light therapy. In this form of therapy, you will be made to sit near a light box that emits strong light between the range of 2,500-10,000 lux. Lux is the unit of measure used to gauge light intensity. 


Principle of Light Therapy

The success of light therapy is still under study. One theory behind its success is that the production of serotonin, the “feel-good” brain chemical, is naturally triggered by light, thereby, alleviating depressive moods. 

The light therapy sessions typically last for 10-15 minutes but the duration will vary upon the light intensity used in the session. The more powerful the light box, the shorter the session will be. These sessions usually start from the fall season and go on till early spring, as during this period depressive moods are known to set in due to lack of sunlight. 


The key elements for effective Light Therapy

The proper combination of light intensity, duration, and timing is supposed to be the key factors that determine the success of a light therapy session. 

  • Light intensity – For treating SAD, the most effective method is to use a light box, having an intensity of 10,000 lux, kept at a distance of 16-24 inches from your face. 
  • Duration – Lower light intensity boxes (2,500 lux) will require longer sessions and with the increase in intensity, the duration of the session decreases. For newbies, sessions are usually kept short and increased over time. 
  • Timing – The light therapy schedule varies between individuals. Largely, sessions performed early in the morning after you first wake up are the most effective. 


Benefits of Light Therapy

Light therapy, although can have a few mild side effects for some people, has proven beneficial for treating a large number of depressive and seasonal disorders. This type of therapy is a non-invasive alternative therapy that can be performed conveniently and safely on your own but under the therapist’s guidance. 


Conditions treated using Light Therapy

Light therapy can be used to treat several conditions:

  • Seasonal Affective Disorders (SADs).
  • Major Depressive Disorders.
  • Jet lag.
  • Sleep disorders. 
  • Adjusting to working night shifts.
  • Dementia. 
  • Psoriasis – performed by the physician/therapist.


Recommendations & side effects with Light Therapy

Light therapy is considered a safe treatment method but it has some minor and short-lasting risks associated. Hence, it is important to use this therapy only after a professional consultation. You should keep your therapist in the loop at all times regarding how the sessions are going. 

Some of the risks associated with light therapy are:

  • Dry eyes and nose.
  • Headache.
  • Nausea.
  • Irritability or agitation.
  • Insomnia.
  • Hypomania, an extended period of heightened mood. 


Successful in easing the symptoms of various disorders, light therapy helps increase energy levels and will make you feel better about life and self. You will start seeing positive results of this therapy in just a few days. Make sure you consult a professional for advice on what is the best approach for your condition and how can you reap the benefits of light therapy. 

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