What is Light Therapy and How is it Used for? 

What is Light Therapy and How is it Used for? 

Light therapy also known as phototherapy is a type of treatment in which a patient is exposed to artificial light. Light therapy is used to treat depression, particularly seasonal affective disorder (SAD), sleep disorders, and dementia. 

It is a long-term effective process. In this article, we will discuss how light therapy is used to treat SAD and how we can make it more effective, and the side effects of this therapy. 

Light therapy to treat SAD: 

Seasonal affective disorder is a type of disorder that occurs with the change of season. Before jumping to the fact of how it can be used to treat it. We must figure out the reason behind SAD. Also, Check out psychiatrists near me.

Reasons behind SAD: 

There are no exact causes of SAD. But researchers believed that there are some factors that can trigger SAD, some of them are:

A shift in the biological clock: 

When the exposure to light reduces, it may distort the biological clock of human beings. The biological clock is associated with the sleep and wake pattern, mood elevations, and hormone release. The distortion of the Biological clock results in mood swings.

Chemical imbalances: 

SAD also causes an imbalance in the chemical composition of the brain. It especially reduces the amount of serotonin which is a chemical that involves improving the mood and inducing the feeling of happiness. 

Melatonin is another chemical in the brain which has the function of controlling sleep patterns, due to less exposure to sunlight in the winter season. The brain produces more melatonin which distorts the sleep pattern.

How does Light Therapy help in SAD? 

Research shows that light therapy showed some positive results in treating SAD. People suggest that light therapy helped them to improve their condition. The treatment involves sitting in front of the lightbox for almost 30 mins each day. The light which emerges from the lightbox fulfills the need for light that is missing during the winter season. dr ahmed psychiatrist is an expert of all therapies.

The light induces the release of serotonin from your brain, serotonin is a hormone that changes your mood. On the other side, it also inhibits the release of melatonin, a hormone that induces sleep. Basically, it works with your biological clock.

Side effects of light therapy: 

It is considered safe but it can be harmful to some people with compromised medical conditions. Like if your eyes are sensitive to light then you may avoid this treatment or else you may face visual disturbance or eye strain. 

People who have sensitive skin or any form of skin cancer also avoid light therapy because continuous exposure to light worsens cancer. 

Other common symptoms include agitation, blurry vision, fatigue, irritability, headaches, nausea, and sweating.

Some of the symptoms are mild or short-lived but you may stop having light therapy if the symptoms become severe and you have a compromised health condition. Always talk to the doctor before changing and adopting any treatment. 

How can you make light therapy more effective?

There are multiple ways in which you can make light therapy effective. In this treatment, the intensity of light and duration matter a lot. Moreover, there are various other ways in which you can make this process effective. Some of them are described below:

Choose the right Lightbox: 

The first step in making light therapy effective is to choose the right instrument. The best you can do is to make research the perfect lightbox available in the market. You may also ask your doctor for help in this matter. Before buying, check the features like light intensity, brightness, and structure. It’s very essential to choose the right lightbox because it eventually creates an impact on your condition.

Light intensity: 

Light intensity is measured in lumens per square meter or lux. The intensity of light determines the effectiveness of the treatment. For this therapy, it is recommended that the intensity of light is between 9,000-10,000 Lux. While the distance between the face and lightbox should be less than 24 inches.

Duration of exposure: 

The duration of the light therapy also depends upon the intensity of the light. You may need to take daily sessions for 20-30 minutes if your lightbox has an intensity of 10,000 Lux or else you may have to increase the duration of exposure if you have a lower intensity lightbox.

In some cases, doctors suggest starting with a relatively low duration and gradually increasing the duration of sessions. Always consult with your doctor before starting the treatment.

Track the timing of exposure: 

Light therapy usually starts in the winter season. The majority of people forget to track their symptoms. If you interrupt the session at the end of the winter season or during the start of the spring season. Then there are chances that symptoms may appear gradually again. So you can simply increase the effectiveness of light therapy by simply reducing the interruptions. Like noticing the time when you start the therapy in winter and when you end in the spring. 

Maintain consistency: 

Like any other therapeutic treatment, Light therapy also demands consistency. You need to be consistent to get results. Keep tracking your symptoms if you skipped the session for a few days. A proper assessment of symptoms and making a consistent approach will eventually help you maintain your mood and sleep patterns. 

Aid Light therapy with other forms of treatment: 

If you are not observing a significant difference in your health, then complement the light therapy with other forms of treatment. Like you can use some antidepressants and psychotherapy. Before using any kind of treatment do consult with your doctor at Cleveland clinic depression treatment.


Lastly, this therapy is to control and treat the symptoms of many health-related complications. But there is no clear evidence available about the accuracy of this treatment. Moreover, you need a proper guideline before starting light therapy.

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