Depression and stress have a tendency to intermingle making it difficult to put your finger on the exact reason why you feel depressed or stressed. You may even feel that it’s not just one thing that’s getting you down it’s everything, and you just can’t seem to kick a consistent feeling of gloom. You can probably categorize those feelings as depression.
Light Therapy for SAD
For some people those feelings of gloom and depression are called SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder. SAD is a depressive disorder associated with light deprivation during the winter months. Seasonal Affective Disorder is caused by a melatonin imbalance initiated by a lack of exposure to sunlight. SAD sufferers are not the only ones feeling stress, depression, and the negative health affects caused by a lack of appropriate sunlight. We are all feeling the impact. Our lifestyles limit our exposure to sunlight.
Vitamin D Deficiency
You naturally get vitamin D from sunlight, and a lack of exposure to sunlight is the main cause of vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D deficiencies can cause severe health issues. Osteoporosis is linked to a lack of vitamin D. Rickets is another bone-wasting disease that is linked to a vitamin D deficiency. Chronic vitamin D deficiency is often misdiagnosed as Fibromyalgia, because the symptoms are so similar- muscle weakness, depression, and unexplained aches and pains.
You can get vitamin D through food and supplements, but sunlight exposure is the only reliable way to generate vitamin D in your body. Studies show that healthy levels of vitamin D inhibit prostate cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, colon cancer, depression, and even schizophrenia.
People with dark skin tend to need 20 to 30 times as much exposure to sunlight as fair-skinned people to generate the same amount of vitamin D. In fact, doctors have now discovered that vitamin D deficiency is causing high rates of prostate cancer in Black males.
People who are over weight have been found to need twice as much vitamin D, because obesity tends to impair how the body utilizes vitamin D. In general, studies show that your risk of developing serious diseases like diabetes and cancer can be reduced by 50% – 80% with simple and sensible exposure to natural sunlight on an average of two to three times each week.
When your exposure to natural sunlight is limited you can combat the depression related to SAD or the health issues associated with sunlight deficiencies with light therapy or photo therapy.
Light therapy is exposure to light through special light therapy lamps or light boxes that are brighter than indoor light, but not as bright as direct sunlight. Light therapy has been found to be effective against depression, and it can reset your biological clock, or circadian rhythms, which controls when you sleep and when you wake up. Exposure to this special light has been found to be close enough to natural sunlight to allow the body to produce needed vitamin D.
Light therapy can offer effective mood altering and physical health benefits for generally anyone and has already been clinically proven to reduce stress.
The photo therapy lamps or light boxes used in the treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder are considered safe and effective for the intended purpose as long as photo-sensitizing drugs are not being taken at the same time and no eye sensitivities exist. It is recommended that light therapy should be used under the supervision of a medical professional, but some light boxes have such low light density that they can be used without consulting a physician.
Are You a Candidate for Light Therapy?
We can all benefit from the use of light therapy. More often than not most people do not get the kind of exposure to the sun that could be beneficial. For instance, you may be stuck inside buildings all day long. You may go to work before sunrise and get out of work as the sun is going down or has already set. If that sounds like your lifestyle you may be a good candidate for light therapy.
Light therapy is a viable alternative to consider when stress or depression has taken over and you need more than aromatherapy, candles, or relaxation to get results.
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