Phototherapy for Mental Health
Phototherapy is gaining ground in the medical field as an effective, non-invasive treatment option.
How Does It Work?
Photons aimed at the brain relieve oxidative stress in the brain. When oxidative stress is relieved, a chain reaction of metabolic effects leads to an increase in blood flow and a reduction in inflammatory cytokines. According to a 2006 Trends in Immunology article “Cytokines Sing the Blues”, pro-inflammatory cytokines contribute to the physiological state in the brain which fuels depression. In fact, when pro-inflammatory cytokines were administered to healthy patients, 50% developed symptoms of depression. It makes sense, therefore, that a treatment that increases blood flow and reduces inflammatory cytokines in the brain would also reduce depression.
Phototherapy improves neurogenesis, while decreasing oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain. It should come as no surprise, then, that phototherapy improves cognitive function. In 2013, neuroscience researchers at the University of Texas at Austin administered transcranial infrared laser phototherapy to healthy subjects to see if it would improve their cognitive function. In this randomized, placebo-controlled study, researchers found that phototherapy improved reaction time, memory, and emotional functions in their test subjects. You can read more about that study HERE.
Chronic Pain Management
Chronic pain and depression often go hand-in-hand. According to the American Pain Foundation, about 32 million people in the U.S. report chronic pain, and more than half of those patients also have depression. Phototherapy providers treat chronic pain in two ways: reducing inflammation, and inducing analgesia. In low doses, phototherapy relieves oxidative stress in cells, increases blood flow, and reduces inflammation. In high doses, phototherapy induces analgesia by disrupting axonal transport in nocireceptors. In other words, photons interrupt pain signals to the brain. This is temporary and reversible, however repeated treatments can lead to reduced central sensitization.
Working with Mental Health Providers
It is easy to incorporate this treatment option into your mental healthcare plan. Phototherapy can be done in conjunction with any other mental health treatment modality already in place. That means a patient doesn't have to stop any medications or therapies to receive benefits from phototherapy.
A Healthy Brain
These therapies have been proven to reduce brain inflammation, reduce depression symptoms, boost cognitive function, and manage chronic pain. By addressing biological changes or injuries to your brain with phototherapy, you can regain your mental clarity, reduce stress, eliminate pain and react more rationally to the stresses of aging and life in general. Finally there is an effective, non-invasive, safe solution to even the most severe mental health issues. From pain relief to depression, anxiety, panic attacks, brain injuries and more; phototherapy can be used to reverse your symptoms!
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