It distorts one’s thoughts, makes it difficult to care for others, and causes constant irritability. Also, it can manifest itself in the form of anxiety, can cause one to be easy to upset. Furthermore, it may be accompanied by chronic pain. This is depression. And it can be treated with light therapy. But let’s read more on the medical issue first.
Around 1 in 10 will suffer at some point in their life from depression. The incidence is higher in certain states and ethnic groups. Nearly 80% of those with symptoms of clinical depression receive no treatment. But there is hope. There are various treatments that can help, but we’ll focus on light therapy here. This isn’t a comprehensive resource on the topic. So be sure to turn to your primary doctor or healthcare provider for more information.
What is Depression?
Feeling sad or depressed is a normal response to the struggles of life, but when is it abnormal? Depression is a serious medical issue that can have an effect on how someone feels, thinks, and acts. It can cause feelings of sadness. Also, it makes one feel helpless, hopeless, and worthless. It can also cause one to loose interest in activities once found enjoyable.
These feelings can last for days, even weeks. It can also make functioning at home and work difficult.
Symptoms of Depression
The key sign to look for is either a depressed mood or loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. But there can be other symptoms. According to the DSM-5, one may have depression if they’ve been suffering from at least five of the following symptoms for at least two weeks.
- Depressed mood for most of the day, particularly morning;
- Fatigue or loss of energy;
- Feelings of worthlessness/guilt;
- Trouble concentrating or indecisiveness;
- Insomnia or hypersomnia;
- Loss of interest in most activities;
- Recurrent thoughts of death/suicide (more than fear of death);
- Restlessness or sense of being slowed down;
- Significant weight loss or weight gain.
Causes of Depression
Depression is a complex mental illness. It could develop due to a medical issue. But it may also appear due to the death of a loved one or family history. There are also reasons unknown to the person experiencing it. Though it can vary greatly, main causes have been pinpointed.
Abuse, whether it be physical, sexual, or emotional, can be a contributing factor. Medications like isotretinoin, interferon-alpha, and corticosteroids can also cause depression. Conflict, the death or loss of a loved one, major life events, and other personal issues contribute as well. Genetics play a huge role in the development of depression. It’s polygenic, meaning that more than one gene is responsible for depression. Serious illnesses present before depression can trigger it, along with substance abuse.
Other Issues that Relate to Depression
Depression is linked to anxiety disorders that include: General Anxiety Disorder (GAD), panic disorder, and social phobia.
Typically, anxiety is a reaction to stress. But too much anxiety can become detrimental to one’s health. Some symptoms can include rapid heart beat, aches/pains, and muscle tension. Anxiety disorders are characterized by anxiety that isn’t proportional to the situation. Generalized Anxiety Disorder is an exaggerated worry or tension over something that usually is nothing to worry about. Panic disorder is a type of GAD that is the sudden onset of fear or terror. Social phobia, or social anxiety disorder, is an unreasonable or irrational fear of social situations.
Depression Treatment Options
Treatment options besides light therapy include:
- Brain stimulation techniques.
We’ll focus on how light therapy helps depression. For starters, it’s much cheaper than antidepressants, because all one needs is a lamp. The patient sits under artificial light for a set amount of time each day. It’s usually used to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD), but it’s used for depression as a last resort when medicine does not work.
It’s not widely used because not it generates little money. However, there are few clinical trials of it used on patients without SAD. The upside is that there are few, if any side effects. But a new trial suggests that light therapy is helpful in treating depression.
The trial had significant results and included 89 participants age 60+. They have shown significant improvement when light therapy was used opposed to a dummy red light, which was the placebo. The participant’s depression was evaluated using the Hamilton Scale for Depression at the beginning and end of the study.
Depression is accompanied by poor sleep, which is a disruption in the circadian rhythm. Light therapy may elevate mood by activating the suprachiasmatic nucleus, or the brain’s circadian pacemaker. It may also target neurotransmitter systems that regulate serotonin and dopamine. Both of these are associated with depression.
Depression can affect anyone, regardless of social status. People in pop culture aren’t even safe from this illness. Several celebrities struggle with depression. Kid Cudi is praised for being a progressive artist that offered something new to the music industry. He admitted to having struggled with depression throughout his career.
Fashion model Cara Delvingne in an interview told her story about struggling with suicidal thoughts and depression since the age of 15. Kehlani shared a photo of her via Instagram of her in a hospital bed saying she was tired of living. This was due to gossip about drama in her personal life.
Putting Depression into Light
Depression can make someone feel like life is hopeless, worthless, and not worth living. But with the proper treatment, one can learn to live a productive life. Depression does not have to limit and define a person. A person with depression can still be their own person.
Light therapy is a gentle and non-invasive treatment for depression. One may even see it as a relaxation method, such as aromatherapy. Light is accessible and, under the right guidance, it may even pay off more than expected.
Leave a comment below about experiences with depression. Did anyone use light therapy, or any other form of therapy? Did it work for you? Let others know so they can get the help they need. Take care!
Images from pixabay.com.