Bipolar Disorder & Light Therapy
I have a friend who often shows extreme shifts in moods. Sometimes I see an extremely elevated mood, and sometimes, it's depression. On some days, I see episodes of uplifted feelings and depression at the same time.
Later I figured out that she was going through a mental illness called bipolar disorder. This isn’t a rare brain disorder. In fact, about 15 million U.S adults suffer from this disorder.
Bipolar disorder is a mental illness characterized by dramatic transfer in mood and behavior. Bipolar depression can last from several days to years, depending on the person's type and state.
Let’s put light on some of the unknown facts of Bipolar Disorder.
- Firstly we need to understand that bipolar depression has several types. It is distinguished by profuse behaviors, moods, depression, and, yes, mixed emotions. The symptoms of this illness can present at different severities and in many combinations in different people. So, it may not be the same for every person who has Bipolar disorder.
We basically classify the states into two broad classes:
- Manic — overly elevated emotions, increase in energy, higher self-confidence, and decreased need for sleep.
- Depression — sad, worthless, suicidal, low feelings
- It is possible that people can experience symptoms of mania and depression at the same time.
- The length of mood episodes and varying behavior can vary from person to person.
- There is no known single cause of this mental illness.
- Not only adults but children and teenagers can have bipolar disorder too.
Light Therapy — the Bipolar Disorder Soother!
If we compare other types of depression, there are fewer treatments available for bipolar disorder.
Hence, it is important to find an effective treatment for your illness.
Antidepressant medications, on the other hand, are not clearly effective. They may aggravate the mood cycling in people with bipolar disorder. Also, many people with bipolar disorder are prescribed to take other medications like mood stabilizers.
That’s why it is important to go for a non-medication treatment, like light therapy!
But why is it recommended? Light therapy is more effective, non-invasive, and absolutely safe because it can be used without worrying about additional drug interactions.
But How Light Therapy Helps?
Humans have natural 24-hour clocks, which are disrupted in bipolar disorder. One way of treating bipolar disorder is to handle the circadian rhythm (24*7 natural cycle that regulates the physical, mental, and behavior changes). And this can be achieved with bright light therapy.
The light emitted during light therapy activates the retina in the eye, resulting in a stimulus being transmitted from the eye to the brain's hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is a part of the brain that has a vital role in regulating mood. It also helps control many bodily functions, such as the release of hormones from the pituitary gland and channelizing the mood.
The light acts through the eyes to regulate the biological clock located in a tiny brain region. There are disturbances in the biological clock that affect circadian rhythms in people with bipolar disorder, including hormonal rhythms, sleep, feelings, cognition, and other behaviors.
Light therapy triggers the hypothalamus and helps bipolar patients to calm their emotional flow and have normal behavior.
Studies have shown that light can affect the major neurotransmitters, or chemical messengers, involved in mood and behavior, e.g., serotonin and dopamine. So, light therapy may act similarly to antidepressants by directly working on these neurotransmitters.
We found trials of light therapy compared to a placebo in people with bipolar depression. The studies' results displayed a significant improvement in depressive symptoms with bright light compared to placebo conditions.
I recommended my friend to you light therapy, and that really helped her. The quality of personal life is great since then. If you are also like my friend who is dealing with bipolar disorder, you possibly got the remedy.
Remember, your Mental Health matters!!