Bright Light Therapy – a promising cure for depression

Bright light therapy is also known as phototherapy. This treatment is used to manage conditions which disrupt people’s sleep patterns, such as delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS).

People who suffer from this condition usually don’t fall asleep until many hours after midnight. As a result they obviously have a hard time waking up early in the morning.

The result is that they are constantly exhausted, struggling to keep up with life. The solution is the use of bright light treatment to gradually shift their sleeping habits to what we consider normal.

New uses of Bright Light Therapy

In recent years, the use of bright light treatment has been extended beyond the use of sleep education and management. New applications include the treatment of seasonal affective disorder, jet lag, eczema, psoriasis and depression.

Phototherapy for Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs periodically during certain times of the year, usually winter. Some people experience a mild form of SAD, while others may experience more severe symptoms.

Phototherapy helps to treat seasonal affective disorder by resetting the sleep-wake cycle and improving sleep quality. Clinical trials found that study participants who received bright light therapy reported a significant reduction in their depression symptoms.

A new cure for perinatal and postnatal depression

A new clinical trial at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research is focusing on the use of bright light therapy as a method to treat mental health conditions in women with perinatal or postnatal depression.

The goal is to establish new non-invasive treatments that can be used when pregnant or after giving birth. Such treatments can then be used to help these women who are depressed or have sleeping difficulties.

The clinical trial incorporated sleep scheduling and other interventions to reset the women’s sleep-wake cycle and improve sleep quality. The study participants who received phototherapy reported a significant reduction in their depression symptoms.

The positive results have raised hopes that there can be more widespread use of bright light therapy as a treatment for depression.

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