If someone told you that lack of exposure to light is a possible cause of depression, specifically Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), it would be hard to believe. You’re probably wondering how light is related to that. Well, let’s break it down.
The link between light and mood/mental status
Studies have shown that there are both direct and indirect links between light and moods in humans. There are certain photoreceptors in our bodies that are directly affected by light, and their projections reach specific parts of the brain that affect emotions. Just ask yourself why does a sunny day make you feel happy?
Also, there are certain systems that are indirectly linked to light and then connected to mood disorders such as neurotransmission, disruption of sleep, hormone secretion, brain plasticity and gene expression. Studies have shown that lack of light indirectly disrupts serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine in neurotransmitters is believed to result in a depressed mood.
In the past, many studies have been carried out to determine the effect of light in the treatment of mental conditions such as the Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
What is SAD?
Seasonal affective disorder represents the major depressive disorder that occurs with seasonal patterns. The amount of people experiencing SAD usually peak during the winter season and decreases relatively during spring and summer seasons. Studies have shown that SAD patterns usually are higher in regions that experience less exposure to the sun and less, longer days. SAD mostly affects women and young adults.
The causes of SAD are still not clear, but research has linked it to imbalances in the brain due to shorter days and reduced sunlight, especially during winter. The seasonal changes affect essential factors in the body such as circadian rhythm (human body clock), melatonin and serotonin levels which off-sets one’s mood.
A person suffering from SAD usually experiences symptoms like low energy, sleeplessness, low interest in fun activities, a gloomy mood for a good part of the day, low self-esteem and changes in appetite.
SAD has been determined to have various treatments. However, one that stands out is light therapy, specifically blue LED light therapy. Aside from playing a significant role in skincare, blue LED light wavelengths of approximately 470nm have proved their effectiveness in treating SAD. Studies have shown that blue LED light therapy exerts significant anti-depressant effects on an individual.
How does it work?
Blue LED light therapy is deployed to compensate for the lack of exposure to sunlight, which results in the major depressive disorder with seasonal patterns (SAD). Blue LED light therapy makes use of the recommended wavelengths need to be applied to a person suffering from SAD.
During the blue LED light therapy sessions, the blue light stimulates the production of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin, also described as the “feel-good” brain chemical, is responsible for eliminating the bad moods and the feeling of powerlessness and replaces them with all positive energy.
Blue LED light therapy is also able to help mental disorders through resetting the circadian rhythm and enabling it to sync with the 24-hour solar day. Circadian rhythm is described as the physical, mental and behavioural changes that adhere to a daily cycle. The changes respond primarily to light and darkness in the environment they’re situated. The circadian rhythm regulates certain behavioural and biological processes such as sleep-wake behaviour, hormone secretion, and gene expression through a daily cycle that is partially regulated by sunlight. Once these processes are disrupted, certain conditions such as metabolic dysfunction and mood disorders occur.
The regions that experience long days, without sunlight during winter, record high cases of SADs since the lack of sunlight disrupts with the circadian rhythm. This consequently leads to mood disorders. Once blue LED light therapy is applied, it plays the role of getting the circadian rhythm back on track hence eliminating mood disorders.
Mental disorders resulting from lack of light such as SADs are preventable and/or treatable. Blue LED light therapy plays a significant in treating and preventing any forms of mental disorders. If you are looking to get yourself a blue LED light therapy device for use at home, check out Skin Engineers website as their devices are medical grade class 1 FDA Approved.