Light Therapy for Anxiety
Anxiety is a mental health disorder that's characterized by fear, dread, and uneasiness. With light therapy for anxiety, you may be able to cope with your anxiety symptoms. In this article, we'll discuss the use of light therapy in mental health, how it can help with anxiety, and the many benefits of using bright light treatment.
Light Therapy Mental Health: The Use of Phototherapy in Mental Health
Phototherapy has been used to treat certain conditions for decades. Even though the first reported case of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) was in 1984, the use of special bright light lamps has been successful in helping treat chronic mood disorders.
Even so, phototherapy may have been around for longer than this depression diagnosis. In 1903, a doctor won the Nobel Peace Prize in medicine because he found that an hour of light therapy can help individuals suffering from certain illnesses, such as smallpox and a specific form of tuberculosis.
Now, bright light therapy is used to help individuals regulate their circadian rhythm and improve their quality of sleep. However, light therapy has also been used to help treat many different mental health conditions.
For example, seasonal affective disorder is a mental health disorder that likely occurs when not getting enough natural sunlight. This may occur during the wintertime when the days are shorter and the nights are longer. Bright light therapy can treat SAD, but you can also use a SAD light for anxiety.
By stimulating the cells in your retina, you can help improve the communication between different parts of your brain. For example, bright light can stimulate the hypothalamus, which is the part of your brain that helps control your circadian rhythm. By doing so, you may reverse specific mental health symptoms, such as depressive symptoms and anxiety. The use of light therapy may be just as effective as some types of antidepressant medication.
Light Therapy for Anxiety Relief
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Can Light Therapy Help with Anxiety?
Light treatment for anxiety can be successful in helping individuals manage and improve their anxiety symptoms. For example, melatonin has been used to help those about to undergo a surgical procedure feel less anxious. In this study, melatonin was given to patients before they went into surgery and found that it successfully reduced the individual's anxiety.
Because bright light therapy can help your body naturally produce melatonin to help you sleep, the use of bright light therapy can be beneficial in assisting individuals in coping with anxiety. Further, melatonin pills can help you improve sleeping decrease symptoms of overall depression and anxiety.
Additionally, another study of depression and anxiety symptoms in epilepsy patients found that light therapy can significantly reduce the mental health symptoms that these patients experience. All 58 patients within the study experienced reduced anxiety and depression symptoms after bright light treatment.
Bright light therapy can help individuals who are struggling with sleep disturbances. Because circadian rhythms are so crucial for helping us regulate our sleeping patterns, any disruption in our sleep patterns may lead to mood disorders and irritability during the day. For that reason, the use of lightbox therapy for anxiety has been shown to improve sleep and mental health symptoms in those with anxiety and depression.
Blue Light and Anxiety
Many of us have heard to avoid blue light before we go to bed. Blue light comes from our electronics, including a TV, computers, tablets, and cell phones. However, blue light does not just impact your ability to fall asleep. Blue light can even affect your mental health.
This is because blue light impacts your circadian rhythm and your ability to fall asleep. When you have difficulty falling asleep and your brain chemicals are not regulated, you may develop sleep disturbances. Further, sleep disruption is a classic symptom of many different mental health disorders, including major depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD, and generalized anxiety disorder.
Can Light Therapy Cause Anxiety?
Bright light therapy does not cause anxiety. However, the use of bright light may cause an individual to feel irritated. This sense of irritability can come from sessions that are too intense or too long. If you experience any side effects from light therapy, it's essential to talk to your sleep specialist or medical doctor to figure out the root cause.
Sun Lamp Anxiety: How Sun Helps Anxiety
Bright light therapy, especially bright light in the morning, could help individuals cope with their anxiety. This is because light will create positive changes in the brain. When you come in contact with bright light in the morning that mimics the wavelengths associated with daylight, your brain becomes better at communicating between different regions. Specifically, the regions that control our emotions, such as stress and anxiety, will increase their activity. This helps you better maintain control over your strong emotions. The amygdala is commonly associated with our fear response and can be impacted by bright light in the brain.
One study evaluating bright light therapy with 30 male participants found those who experience just 30 minutes of bright light therapy each day over three weeks had better control over their brain's fear center.
In addition, it is commonly known that bright light therapy can help improve our circadian rhythm and depressive symptoms. When we do not get restful sleep, we may feel moody and more challenging to control our emotions. So by getting better sleep, you may be able to better cope with anxiety.
Benefits of Light Therapy for Anxiety
There are many benefits of bright light therapy. Those who experience anxiety can choose to participate in bright light therapy for anxiety and benefit from the following:
- Increased amounts of energy.
- Well-regulated sleep.
- Overall improved mental health.
- Improved mood.
- Increased levels of productivity and focus.
- Improved memory.
- Increased sexual function.
- Better regulated digestion.
- Regulated appetite.
- More efficient healing period.
- Lowered blood pressure.
- Increased ability to learn.
- Environment for productivity.
By participating in regular sun therapy treatments, finding the proper lightbox that works for you, and using SAD lamp anxiety, you can experience these benefits and more.
About the Author
Brandon Landgraf is the Digital Marketing Manager for Carex Health Brands. He finds passion and fulfillment in creating content that enhances, improves, and enlivens others' quality of life. All of his written work is formulated to not only offer essential advice and tips but back it with proven studies and experts. His mission is to connect with readers and provide steps to make their lives better.
You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.
About Carex Health Brands
Carex is your one-stop shop for home medical equipment and for products that assist caregivers with providing the best possible support and care for their loved ones. Carex Health Brands has been the branded leader in in-home, self-care medical products for over 35 years. Our goal is to improve the lives of our customers by bring them quality products that bring dignity back to their lives. With our three nationally distributed brands, Carex Health Brands serves national, regional and independent food, drug and mass retailers along with wholesalers, distributors and medical dealers.
If you’re not familiar with what SAD light therapy is, allow me to explain. Light treatment involves sitting in front of a specialized 10,000 LUX light therapy lamp. These lamps are designed to put out high amounts of light (LUX) to mimic the sun. Our bodies need sunlight, but we rarely receive enough of it—the sun aids in our body’s ability to produce two essential hormones: melatonin and serotonin. By sitting in front of a light therapy lamp for 20-30 minutes each morning, we replace some of that lost sunlight. These 12 light therapy lamp benefits have been thoroughly researched and tested based on the effects bright light therapy has on users.
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