College Students use Light Therapy to Improve Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

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Brain

The life of a college student is taxing, to say the least. It's likely the first time you're doing something on your own, and are responsible for yourself, your schedule and lifestyle. For some, this is the most liberating time; for others, it’s incredibly overwhelming. However, there's a general agreement that college students all go through difficult times. 

Whether still living with parents or sharing a dorm or space with roommates, college students are immersed in an entirely new life experience. Classes are challenging and students struggle with getting their work done while maintaining a social life, and perhaps a job. The level of pressure to succeed is very demanding, and this can cause negatively associated thoughts, leading to stress. Eating habits change and alter, usually for the worst, not to mention that the new sense of freedom can be chaotic for many young adults. 

Taking care of yourself is the number one priority, and when learning to deal with the new load of responsibility, college students often get sidetracked. Health and self-care get only an ounce of attention and not nearly as much as it should. While many students think it takes a lot of effort, just starting small shows results. 

Stress is the precursor of everything in our body, and leads to all sorts of illness and disorders. It's pretty common for college students to experience stress; more than 40% of students claimed to have experienced above-average stress levels, with it getting worse during exam periods and the winter season, when even more time is spent indoors. All of this, compounded by a pandemic and social distancing, makes for extremely challenging circumstances for college students today.

Now, colleges such as the University of Iowa are turning to light therapy to help get students the light they need to continue thriving. 

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a mood disorder that occurs annually, generally in fall and early winter, and ends in sunnier and warmer months of spring and early summer. However, it’s worth noting that it’s not a perfect formula; there have been reported cases of the opposite, where a person starts experiencing the disorder spring or summer, and it only ends with the arrival of fall/winter. 

SAD can affect 11 million people in the U.S. each year, and 25 million more may have a milder form of the same disorder, also known as winter blues. Depression and anxiety affect 40 million adults in America, while only 36.9% receive the proper care for these mental health conditions

And, SAD’s symptoms can look and feel much like depression. It causes you to sleep more and gives you symptoms that look like other disorders such as chronic fatigue syndrome, under-active thyroid, low blood sugar, viral illnesses, or other mood disorders.

Seasonal affective disorder is linked to a lack of sunlight. The winter days are shorter, and that itself our circadian rhythm, or internal body clock. Everyone has a specific sensitivity to sunlight, and our bodies take a cue from the morning sunlight each day. In the winter time, the lack of sunlight creates perfect circumstances to experience SAD.

Light therapy, by definition, gives you a healthy supply of what you lack in winter months, often leading to SAD. But light therapy is much more than that. Light therapy’s uses and benefits are many, so while treating SAD, you could also be treating other problems you may not even know of – it’s like killing multiple birds with one stone, and that stone happens to be safe, non-invasive, and non-pharmaceutical.

Light therapy mimics the positive effects produced by exposure to the sun. It reproduces the effects the sun provides us with, and can solve numerous symptoms of SAD through the use of ultraviolet rays. You may be wondering if red light therapy is safe for skin: yes, it is entirely safe. Specifically, with Kayian's light therapy devices, which are FDA-approved and MDA-certified.

With light therapy, you're able to stimulate your cells into rejuvenation. The light works directly at the cellular level and triggers the reproduction of ATP, the fuel our system needs to function properly. 

Light therapy helps with SAD by causing our brain to believe it's getting more sunlight. Even though the light is fabricated, it's still light. We still reap all of the benefits as we do from sun exposure. Melatonin and serotonin are what affects the impact; they too, are triggered by our light therapy devices, which is what battles SAD. 

The scientific evidence on light therapy and SAD says that even within the first hour, you may experience positive results. With daily use of light therapy, thousands of people have overcome the debilitating symptoms of SAD and other disorders, and now even college students can turn to the holistic treatment to replenish the light they’re lacking.