Notes On Light Therapy
Europeans take a unique approach to light therapy. Since most european countries are at latitudes farther north than most, they are accustomed to long winter nights that compel them to think about light therapy almost all year around. Light therapy has become part of their daily lives. Not only do they consider corrective light therapy, they also practice preventative light therapy.
Light is important to mental well being. Light therapy is a common treatment in the North Countries where one finds high rates of depression that doctors have found are related to the long winter nights experienced by the people who live there.
Salt lamps can be used for corrective light therapy and they can be used for preventative light therapy and to adjust our emotional conditions.
Salt comes in a very useful spectrum of colors that create different moods when properly lighted. So you can choose one or more different light colors to fit your current condition and need for light therapy.
Red is the provocative color that boosts your vital forces and gives you an energetic outlook on life.
Apricot is said to help you overcome over come emotional blocks, improve open mindedness and increase vital energy.
Orange is supposed to aid relaxation and improve body harmony. It is also said to be very helpful in overcoming stress, and nervous shock. It also is supposed to increase creativity and your outlook on life.
White brightens your outlook and has a calming effect that helps you concentrate and enrich your emotional life.
Light therapy, in one form or another, has been used as a treatment for a number of conditions since ancient times. Nearly 2,000 years ago, Greco-Roman physicians were treating depression and lethargy with sunlight directed toward the eyes. During his Arctic expeditions in the 1890s, Frederick Cook, M.D., noticing the profound influences of light on the voyagers and Alaskan natives, described a syndrome characterized by depressed mood, fatigue, and loss of energy and sexual desire. In 1946, H. Marx reported the use of bright artificial light to treat four men who had become depressed during an Arctic winter.
Contemporary corrective light therapy involves daily scheduled exposure to bright artificial light (Lam et al., 1999b; Partonen, 2001; Rosenthal and Matthews, 1999). The term light therapy is used to differentiate light therapy for psychiatric disorders from phototherapy for other conditions, such as hyperbilirubinemia or psoriasis.
Preventative light therapy consists of keeping mood adjusting lights in home to not only provide the necessary spectrum of light to prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder, but also to adjust the living conditions to a more pleasant situation.
What is SAD Seasonal Affective Disorder? - Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a specific type of major depression, one which reoccurs at specific times of the year. The most common pattern is the onset of major depression in the fall (September through November) and abating of the symptoms in late winter to early spring (March through May). There are other people who experience periods of abnormally high or euphoric mood between major depressive episodes. The frequency of SAD seems to vary with geographic location. It may approach 10% of the general population in northern New England, 5% of the population in the Baltimore/Washington area, and less than 2% of the population of Southern California or Florida.
What causes S.A.D. - Change in sunlight exposure is the key. The amount of day light exposure one receives and the changes in sunrise/sunset reducing the daylight hours in the fall and winter can affect suffers of S.A.D. The most commonly believed hypothesis follows: although the body has natural daily rhythms, they are not fully precise and rely on the intensity of sunlight to provide adjusting cues. These cues originate in the retina at the back of the eye, creating signals which pass through the optic nerve to the mid brain, setting in motion a number of chemical changes. These changes include: 1) Increase in the neurotransmitter serotonin, necessary for a sense of well being.
2) Regulation and suppression of the hormone melatonin, which is a factor in normal sleep patterns and may influence sleeps recuperative benefits.
How can S.A.D. be treated?
In many ways, the treatment of SAD is similar to that of other major depressive episodes, utilizing antidepressant or mood stabilizing medication and/or psychotherapy. In addition, the exposure to bright light has been found to be an effective means of treating seasonal affective disorder. The individual sits in front of a bright light unit, a specialized, portable box which houses balanced spectrum fluorescent tubes. An individual's needs for light therapy specifies the duration of exposure and the optimal time of day. An individual should meet periodically with their health care professional and the dose of light therapy can be adjusted as needed.
Northern Europeans have found that a series of well lit, colorful salt lamps help them through the dark winters and are a effective addition to the more determined light therapy treatments.
In using light therapy, the appricot to white salt lamps are most favored. And the brighter the lamp the better.