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.

What is Depression?

Understanding how to effectively treat and manage depression begins with understanding depression itself.  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
  • Irritability
  • 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. 

When the red light or near infrared (NIR) light from a clinical light therapy device shines on a person’s body, those wavelengths go deeper than the surface of the skin to reach the brain and affect brain cells directly. NIR light can also stimulate melatonin production, which can also help with depression symptoms. The mitochondria in your cells are stimulated by red light therapy to produce more ATP cellular energy, which powers everything humans do. This boost to cellular function is what enables red light therapy to be so effective at treating mood disorders, such as depression.

In 2018, researchers investigated the effectiveness of RLT as a depression treatment. They discovered that after 8 weeks of treatment, people experienced significant reductions in depression symptoms. In addition, there were no significant side effects or complications.    

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. 

Increased Energy

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.  

Healthier Skin

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.

Services offered at Knoxville Recovery Center: 

Detox – Our on-site detox clinic accommodates and supports clients as the body sheds all residual traces of addictive substances. Clients are under medical supervision during the detox process to ensure that they remain safe and comfortable. 

Addiction Treatment –  During our addiction treatment program, clients will engage in introductory therapies and exercises that work to prepare them for continued, more intensive treatment outside of our facility. The goal of our addiction treatment track is to stabilize clients so that they are treatment-ready. 

Mental Health Treatment – Our mental health treatment program introduces behavioral therapies rooted in self-expression and holistic exercise. Art therapy, music therapy, and yoga are just a few forms of therapy we offer at the center. Our goal is to help the client reclaim their voice and expose them to treatment within a professional facility. 

Aftercare Planning – Aftercare is designed for individuals who have benefitted from our introductory addiction services and are transitioning into a more intensive addiction treatment program. Once a client is stabilized, they will be encouraged to pursue continued addiction treatment. Our experienced case managers will then work with our clients to place them in a program that addresses their specific wants and needs.

If you feel that you or a loved one is struggling and needs help, or if you’re curious red light therapy and how it could help you or a loved one, our specialists are on standby and ready to help. Call Knoxville Recovery Center and speak with an expert today.

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