What is photo-therapy?
Photo-therapy (light therapy) is the exposure to light more intense than the light bulb, but not as intense as sunlight. Light therapy does not use ultraviolet light, heat-emitting lamps, or tanning lamps.
Light therapy can be useful in the treatment of depression and can influence (resets) the "biological clock" (circadian rhythm), which controls sleep and awakening.
Phototherapy typically consists of placing the person in front of a high-intensity fluorescent lamp every morning for 30 minutes, up to 2 hours.
Most people use phototherapy to treat seasonal affective disorders, which are depressions related to diminishing the day and reducing sunlight in the fall and winter months. The psychological condition of most people with seasonal affective disorders improves after phototherapy. This can be attributed to replacing sunlight dimmed with synthetic rays and resetting the biological clock. Phototherapy has maximum efficiency when used in the morning after waking. The doctor will indicate the appropriate time to use this therapy after consulting with the patient. Although the response to this therapy may occur within 2-4 days, in some cases it may sometimes take up to 3 weeks of therapy to alleviate the symptoms of seasonal affective disorders to occur. Some people with seasonal emotional disturbances, especially those who get up early in the morning, can use phototherapy for 1-2 hours during the evening.
Phototherapy is generally a safe procedure and can be associated with other types of therapies. If the symptoms of depression do not improve or worsen, the doctor should be consulted.
The most common side effects of phototherapy are:
- eye strain and visual disturbance
- head pain
- agitation or fainting sensation
These side effects can be eliminated by reducing the exposure time.
People with sensitive skin or eyes should not use phototherapy without a doctor's opinion. Before starting an alternative therapy or combining alternative therapy with standard therapy, it is important that you consult your doctor. It may be harmful to discontinue standard therapy and use only alternative therapy.