Currently, the United States along with the rest of the world is in the midst of a mental health crisis. Millions of people around the world are living with mental health problems like anxiety disorder and depression. While there are no cures for these disorders, there are several effective treatments that can make living with mental health issues like depression more manageable, including red light therapy.
Understanding how to effectively treat and manage depression begins with understanding depression itself.
What is Depression?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression is “a common but serious mood disorder”. This disorder can cause a number of severe effects on a person. Depression often has a negative impact on the way a person feels, thinks, and manages daily activities and responsibilities such as sleeping, eating, and working.
Signs and Symptoms of Depression
Although depression affects every person differently, common signs and symptoms of depression include:
- Consistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, or worthlessness
- Loss of interest in hobbies and/or activities
- Decreased energy (fatigue)
- Slowed movement and speech
- Feeling restless
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping, oversleeping, or waking up early
- Changes in appetite and/or weight
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Suicide attempts
- Aches and pains (including headaches, cramps, or digestive problems)
Red Light Therapy for Mental Health
There are multiple ways a person can treat their depression in order to make living with it more manageable. One of the most effective methods for some is red light therapy.
History of Red Light Therapy
Red light therapy dates back to the early 1900s. It was first invented and used by Danish physicist Niels Ryberg Finsen. Finsen found that exposure to certain kinds of light, such as red light, could help stimulate cell growth, so he used it to treat people with skin tuberculosis. Decades later, NASA adopted light therapy to help stimulate plant growth in space and keep their astronauts healthy.
How Red Light Therapy Works
The reason red light therapy works is due to how light travels. All light — no matter the color — travels in wavelengths. Different colors and hues of light will have different wavelengths. The wavelengths of red light in particular have a unique ability to more deeply penetrate cells, like the cells of plant life and skin cells. In doing so, they provide the mitochondria in skin and plant cells energy, which is absorbed and used to increase overall cellular function and reproduction. This increased functioning and reproduction often results in healthier skin and skin cell growth. However, it can also lead to other benefits.
Benefits of Red Light Therapy
Although red light therapy is not a cure for depression or any other mental health disorder, the use of red light therapy can provide a person with several benefits, which can make living with depression more manageable.
Red light therapy forces skin cells to absorb energy and increase cellular function. Oftentimes, this translates to an overall energy increase in those receiving the treatment. For many, a little extra energy is just what they need to manage their depression and go about their day.
Better Sleep and Healthier Sleep Cycle
Sleep and a healthy sleep cycle are usually difficult for individuals living with depression. Fortunately, red light therapy helps reinforce subconscious associations with waking hours and non-waking hours. In doing so, many who receive red light therapy find that they not only get more sleep but have healthier sleep cycles.
The use of red light therapy increases the function and reproduction of skin cells. This almost always leads to healthier, rejuvenated skin. For some, new, healthier, and better-looking skin can lead to greater self-confidence, which can help fight back against some feelings of depression.
Improved Mental and Emotional State
All in all, the use of red light therapy can have numerous benefits for a person’s health and wellbeing. Typically, when one takes care of their body and makes adjustments to become healthier, they find that their state of mind and emotional state also improve along with it.
Searching for Mental Health Treatment in Your Area?
If you or a loved one are living with a mental health issue like depression, help is available! At Knoxville Recovery Center, our team of mental health experts provides a variety of treatments and therapies, including red light therapy. Contact us today for more information!