How Bright Light Therapy Can Treat PTSD

December 26, 2019
Jeffrey Fongemie
bright light therapy for ptsd

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that affects people who have witnessed or experienced a traumatic event such as war/combat, a serious accident, a natural disaster, a terrorist act, or other violent incidents. According to the National Center for PTSD, more than 5 million adults in the US presently suffer from PTSD.

Living with trauma can be challenging enough, but the multitude of PTSD symptoms like sleep disorders and hypersensitivity to the surroundings can also leave the person feeling drained and depressed. 

If you are also experiencing the adverse effects of PTSD and finding it hard to live a quality life, bright light therapy might be one answer you’re looking for.

Bright Light Therapy for PTSD

During the light PTSD therapy or “sunlight therapy”, you engage with a “light therapy device” that emits high-intensity light similar to natural sunlight. It tricks your brain into thinking that you are exposed to bright daylight, and your body starts producing serotonin, vitamin D, and other good hormones that make you feel happier.

Researchers at the University of South Carolina studied the impact of artificial light (light therapy) on 16 soldiers who were suffering from PTSD. These soldiers received bright light therapy for 30 minutes a day. The results demonstrated that within a couple of weeks of receiving the therapy, the soldiers started sleeping better and also found relief from depressive disorders such as anxiety and severe depression.

ptsd therapy

PTSD treatment in the form of light therapy has also proven to be effective in reducing flashbacks, which many PTSD patients experience on a regular basis. These flashbacks often contribute to the poor quality of sleep and depression, which can be remedied by undergoing bright light therapy. 

How does Light Therapy Improve PTSD Symptoms?

The idea behind using light therapy to treat PTSD symptoms is that bright light exposure early in the morning corrects the circadian rhythm of the body. Circadian rhythms refer to the natural internal clock inside us that regulates our wake/sleep cycles and repeats after every 24 hours. 

Scientists have found that PTSD patients have a disturbed circadian rhythm that leads to interrupted sleep patterns and fitful sleep. Using light therapy for 30 to 60 minutes a day in the morning, for at least 4 weeks, can help shift the PTSD patients’ circadian rhythm back to normal. 

However, it is important to consult a doctor before buying any light therapy equipment. A skilled medical professional can help you understand how to effectively enjoy light therapy, for how long you should use it, and what time of the day you should use it for maximum benefits.

Affordable and Effective

If you are looking for an affordable and effective PTSD therapy option to get your life back on track, consider undergoing light therapy for a few weeks. It has worked wonders for people suffering from skin issues and seasonal affective disorder (SAD) which is a form of depression. Several studies have proven that increased exposure to bright light can rectify the chemical imbalances in the brain, and result in improved mental health and happiness. 

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