Light Therapy and Depression

What is Depression?

Depression can affect how one thinks, feels, causing difficulties in how depressed people get through their everyday lives. Depression is a common psychiatric and mood disorder, clinically it is known as major depressive disorder (MDD)1,10. The main symptom of MDD is anhedonia or the loss of feeling pleasure in activities that previously caused joy1. Depression can make many parts of getting through the day difficult. Depression also makes thinking and acting on thoughts much harder1,10. It is common in Americans, and at least 21% of all Americans have experienced depression at least once10,11. Depression can come up spontaneously and then go away, or last a long time without going away1. It can also depend on the season or time of year (i.e., Seasonal Affective Disorder)1. 

When does depression occur? 

Depression sometimes starts in teenagers but can occur throughout life1,4,15. People can start to feel the effects of depression after traumatic or stressful events, such as financial loss or loss of a partner13. In addition to being triggered by stressful events, depression can affect how people’s brains work or are organized, and these changes can make behaviors unhealthy, make social interactions difficult, and make one’s thoughts about oneself more negative14. Depression can occur in anyone from adolescence onward, so being aware of treatment options is important for everyone, whether they are currently experiencing depression or not.

What do current evidence-based treatments look like?

Current evidence-based treatments for depression have some major flaws. Antidepressants are medications that try to correct the “chemical imbalance” that is thought to be a part of depression9. They can be incredibly helpful when prescribed by a physician, but these medications are not always effective and can cause side effects ranging from nausea to severe and unintended effects such as suicidal thoughts, difficulty sleeping, and difficulty thinking clearly1. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) treats depression by addressing negative thoughts that come with depression and dealing with them in a productive way with a trained therapist7. CBT works in some cases but lacks ways to affect the neurological pieces of depression directly. Psychotherapy involves talking through emotional distresses and problems with a licensed therapist and can help patients deal with depression6. However, psychotherapy outcomes vary depending on therapists’ skill sets and are inconsistent in treating depression6. Current psychotherapy treatments can be effective but fall short in certain people due to inconsistency, negative side effects, and failure to target the neurological aspects of depression.

Light Therapy (photobiomodulation) is an evidence-based treatment for depression that has many advantages with no side effects. It is well researched in over 5,000 studies and 400 rigorous double-blind studies. Studies report that Light Therapy improves mood and cognition, which are mental processes that are negatively affected by depression2,8. Light Therapy also treats neurological problems with depression, including inflammation3. Brain inflammation is more likely to occur in people with depression3. Luckily, brain inflammation can be alleviated by Light Therapy and make depressive symptoms go away at the neurological level3. Light Therapy has been proven to reduce inflammation in the body. This decreased inflammation helps the brain, at the organ level, fix some of the underlying issues that contribute to depressive symptoms. Light Therapy helps fight depression at the neurological level11.

Light Therapy: A Safe, Repeatable Treatment for Depression

A single session of Light Therapy has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression8. Repeated Light Therapy treatment works even better than a single session, to keep inflammation levels low and preventing symptoms from coming back3,12. Additionally, scientists have shown that depression makes the brain susceptible to oxidative stress11. This type of stress occurs when free radicals (molecules) weaken tissue16. Light Therapy has been proven to decrease oxidative stress for over 50 years16. It can protect the brain to help heal itself, and decrease depressive symptoms. Depression can make individuals feel like they are fatigued and cannot focus, partially due to the body losing abilities to produce energy5. Light Therapy helps the body produce energy, harnessing the body’s natural functions to decrease fatigue5. Light Therapy is an effective and safe option that treats negative mood, behavioral symptoms, and cognitive issues in depression while having no side effects.

Where Can I Experience Light Therapy?

Light Lounge is based in Evergreen, CO. We specifically use high-end medical devices that are FDA approved. Book your FREE therapy session here and visit us at our retail location in Evergreen, CO! To be on track with the latest updates and news from PBMT world, connect with us on facebook and twitter

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