Frequently Asked Questions On Light Therapy

Light therapy? How does light therapy work in treatment?

a woman who feels SAD need to get as much natural BLT exposure as possible said by therapist

In recent years, several technological advancements have made our daily lives more comfortable. From communication to education to information, technology has made tasks more convenient and reliable.

Read on about light therapy to learn more about its benefits.

Light Therapy

Light therapy, also known as phototherapy and bright light therapy, is a therapy used to treat a variety of mental health conditions. How does light therapy help?

Apart from these, technology has also been helpful in terms of medical treatment. For example, technology paved the way for the development of light therapy for seasonal affective disorder.

As we discuss light therapy here, we will relate it to a condition that has been proven to benefit tremendously from light therapy – seasonal affective disorder. What is light therapy? How does light therapy work? And is light therapy hard to find?

The seasonal affective disorder consists of episodes of depression and/or restlessness that occur regularly during particular times of the year. Winter depression is the most prevalent form of SAD. It exhibits repeated episodes of specific symptoms that occur in the fall or winter.

Light Therapy: Symptoms You Should Be Looking Out For

  • Oversleeping 
  • Craving for energy-rich foods
  • Weight Gain
  • Social withdrawal

If left untreated, this condition can get complicated. It can lead to serious problems, including school or work problems, substance abuse, self-harm, and other mental disorders. Also, it can generally be remiss during the upcoming spring or summer. So where does light therapy come in? How does light therapy work with SAD?

The specific cause of SAD is unknown. But the reduction of sunlight exposure can end up triggering SAD. Seasonal changes can also disrupt the circadian rhythm and the internal body clock. It can then trigger winter depression. A significant drop in both serotonin and melatonin levels can drop significantly and lead to depression.

Does light treatment really help with depression?

Some are more likely to develop SAD than others. Those who have major depression or bipolar disorder are more likely to develop SAD. Having relatives with SAD or another form of depression also increases the risk of acquiring SAD. Finally, living far from the equator can increase the risk for SAD due to a significant drop in sunlight exposure. Does light therapy have an effect on bipolar disorder?

People who experience SAD need to get as much natural light therapy exposure as possible, especially early in the morning. However, this may not apply to some areas due to the darker winter months. Thus, the use of light therapy coupled with other primary treatments for SAD can significantly improve your condition.

Light Therapy: What is light full-spectrum therapy?

Full-spectrum light therapy is primarily used for treating seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Also known as “winter depression,” it occurs typically during this period due to the lack of sunlight. This light therapy session makes use of boxes with full-spectrum lighting, which mimics the wavelengths of natural sun rays. Exposure to this light therapy has been said to work well in treating SAD and other types of depression.

How do you use full-spectrum?

Full-spectrum light therapy is a simple and straightforward process. You simply have to sit or stay near a box. This box will emit an artificial bright light with filtered UV rays, which duplicates the natural daylight. It effectively mimics this bright light, hence, making the sessions work for winter depression.

The bright light operates by activating retinal cells that have a connection to the brain’s hypothalamus, which is an area that regulates the circadian rhythm. Stimulating the hypothalamus at specific times daily can re-establish a regular circadian rhythm, hence, getting rid of the seasonal symptoms.

Does full spectrum really work?

Yes, light therapy does but do note that full-spectrum is not a suitable treatment option for everyone. Some people may experience successful results with full-spectrum addressing SAD and other types of depression. However, therapists would often combine this treatment with other methods to achieve the best results.

What is the best light therapy lamp for SAD?

The best light therapy lamp for SAD should have at least 10,000-lux box intensity. It should be able to filter out harmful UV rays to avoid the risk of eye and skin damage. Just a reminder that the best way to use the lamp is at least 16 to 24 inches distance from the face.

Does this type of session really work for wrinkles?

Various types of sessions address numerous concerns from aging, depression, and other disorders. A specific type called red light therapy (RLT) is used to solve skin conditions, including wrinkles. As its primary purpose is for anti-aging, RLT uses red light with a low wavelength.

Is light therapy effective for acne treatment?

Usually, three sessions weekly for an estimated span of four to six weeks is a typical recommendation to initiate. Thereafter, the effects might have to be sustained by periodic follow-up therapies, probably around three months.

Is light therapy dangerous?

Aside from reported minor side effects like headaches, full-spectrum is generally considered safe. Most wavelengths from full spectrum lights are not harmful because they can filter out dangerous UV. Thus, it is generally safe even for kids.


Light Therapy

How long does it take for light therapy to work?

Many people who use it usually respond to the treatment within 3 to 5 days. However, some may take longer. The improvements may come in the following week for those who didn’t see or experience any changes within the first week. But still, it can take longer than that.

Does full-spectrum help with vitamin D?

Yes. Some full spectrum light bulbs can help with vitamin D synthesis, particularly those with ultraviolet B (UVB). Full-spectrum light bulbs that generate UVB of around 290 and 315 nm help our skin produce vitamin D.

What color is the full-spectrum light?

Full-spectrum lights appear blue or white-colored and simulate natural light to the human eye. These high color-spectrum sources have a CRI of around 80 and 90.

Is LED Full Spectrum?

Not all LED lights are full spectrum; it depends on the manufacturer. However, most LED manufacturers produce LEDs with full-spectrum lights in various color temperatures.

Is 5000k full-spectrum?

The typical full-spectrum light has a color temperature of 6500k to match the natural daylight color. However, 5000k also meets the standard of full-spectrum lights as it can filter out yellow light from ordinary incandescent light. Some people prefer 5000k full-spectrum lights to the higher 6500k.

Are SAD lights for treatment bad for your eyes?

No. The recommended boxes for SAD are usually safe for the eyes. These lightboxes can filter out harmful UV rays that are dangerous to the eye and the skin.

Can you wear glasses during the treatment?

While there is no reason you cannot wear glass, it is not recommended for SAD treatment. Wearing glasses or contact lenses may decrease the treatment’s effectiveness in achieving optimal results.

Is red light therapy a hoax?

At present, there is still little research around RLT as an effective treatment process. Although several studies show its potential applications, there is still a need for extensive clinical studies to determine conclusive evidence of its effectiveness.

Can full spectrum rays cause skin cancer?

No. The full-spectrum light design makes it so that it does not expose cancer-causing UV rays directly to the skin. Thus, you can use full-spectrum lights with confidence for an extended time.


Light Therapy

In summary, full-spectrum light therapy is a  primary treatment used to control seasonal affective disorder, including winter depression. It mimics natural daylight using full boxes that produce blue or white-colored light.

It is a proven approach to treating SAD that works for most people. This treatment works in conjunction with other primary treatments. The recommendation is to use at least 10,000-lux light box intensity that can filter out harmful UV rays. 

Light Therapy Notes

Generally considered safe, although full-spectrum lighting therapy can cause minor side effects like headaches. Recommended lighting treatment boxes for SAD filter out damaging UV rays and are safe for your eyes. Light therapy is also safe for your skin, so you can rest easily.

If you feel moody or haven’t been sleeping well, it may be time to see yourself in a new light, literally. Light helps regulate the natural rhythms of our body and mind, and not getting enough or the right kind of light can impact our health in surprising ways.

Exposure to this condition can intensify with an increase in exposure to light from our gadget screens and pandemic seclusion. Full-spectrum ray treatment may be the solution for you.


Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What are the types of light therapy?
  2. What disorder is treated with light therapy?
  3. Is there any science behind light therapy?
  4. How long should you do light therapy?
  5. What are the benefits of light therapy?
  6. Does light therapy help anxiety?
  7. How often should you do light therapy?
  8. How long does bright light therapy take to work?
  9. How does light therapy affect the brain?
  10. Which type of light therapy is best?


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