In recent years, the effectiveness of red light laser therapy has gained recognition as a non- invasive and versatile treatment modality with a wide range of potential benefits. Initially used in dermatology and physical rehabilitation, this therapy has now captured the attention of mental health professionals due to its promising effects on our emotional and mental well-being. As trauma experts, we will delve into the benefits of red-light therapy for mental health, exploring its potential in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety, improving sleep quality, enhancing cognitive function, and promoting overall mind, body and spiritual health. Let us embark on a journey to understand how the power of red and near infrared light can positively impact our mental and emotional state. Red light laser therapy has been shown to have many positive impacts on emotional and mental health. It is thought to work by increasing blood flow to the brain, which can help to improve cognitive function and mood. Red light laser therapy works by emitting low-level infrared light that penetrates the skin and reaches the cells. The light energy is then absorbed by the mitochondria, which are the powerhouses of the cells. In short, red and near infrared light heals the body at the cellular level, rather than temporarily masking symptoms. This energy helps to increase cellular energy production, which can lead to a number of benefits, including:
As a result, the benefits of red light therapy is getting attention as being effective in treating a variety of mental health conditions, such as;
Alongside the effectiveness of red light is the excitement over it being generally well-tolerated and has few side effects. The most common side effect is mild redness at the treatment site. To give a greater understanding over the elation we have in bringing red light therapy to our practice here at A Place to Turn, here is a more specific explanation of the many ways Red-Light Laser therapy positively impacts the mental health challenges. Alleviating Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety Red-light laser therapy has shown promise as an adjunctive treatment for individuals experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety. Studies suggest that exposure to red and near infrared light stimulates the release of endorphins and promotes the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter known for its mood-regulating properties. This therapy has demonstrated the potential to reduce depressive symptoms, enhance mood, and alleviate anxiety levels. By modulating brain activity and neurochemical balance, red light laser therapy offers a non- pharmaceutical approach to managing mental health conditions. More specifically, some studies have shown the effectiveness of red light therapy may be greater the traditional antidepressants. Benefits of red light in treating anxiety disorders, includes across the board from generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Again, effectiveness of red light therapy with PTSD shows a reduction of symptoms, including nightmares, flashbacks, and anxiety. Enhancing Sleep Quality Restorative sleep is essential for maintaining optimal mental well-being, and infrared light therapy has emerged as a potential tool for enhancing sleep quality. Exposure to red and near infrared light has been found to regulate the production of melatonin, a hormone crucial for the sleep-wake cycle. By using red light devices before bedtime, individuals can support the natural secretion of melatonin, leading to improved sleep patterns. Restful sleep not only rejuvenates the body but also supports cognitive functioning and emotional resilience. Boosting Cognitive Function Red light therapy has shown promising effects in enhancing cognitive function and mental performance. Studies suggest that exposure to red and near infrared light increases cerebral blood flow, oxygenation, and glucose metabolism in the brain. This heightened activity can enhance cognitive processes such as attention, memory, and executive function. Moreover, the benefits of red light laser therapy has demonstrated neuroprotective properties, potentially reducing the risk of cognitive decline and neurodegenerative disorders. By promoting brain health and optimizing cognitive abilities, this therapy offers potential benefits for individuals seeking to improve their mental acuity and overall cognitive well-being. It has shown to improve cognitive function in people with Dementia and Alzheimer's disease. There is evidence that red and near infrared light therapy can help with healing a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Though TBI differs from Alzheimer’s and other dementias in that it is caused by a blow to the head, the symptoms can be similar (including memory loss and changes in personality), and beneficial therapies including red or near-infrared light therapy might help heal brain cells for loved ones suffering from these diseases. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4870908/) When red and near infrared light is absorbed by the body, light photons interact with mitochondria inside cells, which are colloquially referred to as cellular “energy factories.” Again, this stimulates the mitochondria to produce more cellular fuel, which energizes cells. An energized cell is a thriving cell. In fact, many studies, including a joint effort between Case Western Reserve University and the University of Texas, confirm that mitochondrial dysfunction (low-energy cells) is one of the primary causes of Alzheimer’s disease. The published study states that when mitochondria are structurally and functionally damaged they may be early stage markers of the disease. (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0925443913003232) In turn, the effectiveness of red light laser therapy has been shown to improve motor function and reduce tremors in people with Parkinson's disease. Again, red light therapy may reduce Parkinson's symptoms by targeting mitochondria, the cell's powerhouses, and/or the release of the nerve-signaling molecule dopamine, which is abnormally low in Parkinson's. It may also support nerve function and reduce pain and inflammation in Parkinson’s. It may also support wound healing of nerve function and reduce pain and inflammation. Previous studies offer more impressive results of improvement in mobility, cognition, fine motor skills and return of sense of smell. Again, mitigating impairments that have been flagged as one of the earliest signs of the neurodegenerative disease. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8249215/) Red light laser therapy has been shown to improve social interaction and communication skills in children with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Several studies have investigated the effectiveness of red light therapy on autism in the last few years. Expanded use of the red light therapy in using the parts of the red and near infrared light spectrum - parts that are non-heating. What they have discovered so far included: Red light therapy to the brain, children and adolescents with autism lower their irritability, lethargy, social withdrawal, and other autism symptoms in a mere five sessions (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29956199/) Another study shows improvements in speech ability and the capability for social interaction when red light therapy is applied (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7583335/). It’s very likely that autism is connected to both issues with excess inflammation as well as problems with mitochondria ( https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30039193/ ). Again, mitochondria are our energy-producing factories of the cells, and red light therapy can lower excess inflammation and improve the mitochondria health so that your energy production capacity goes up. And, although more research is needed to confirm these results, the outcomes of the benefits of red light are very promising. Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder Red light laser therapy has been shown to improve attention and focus of children with ADHD. A new study shows that infrared light therapy can improve short-term working memory in young adults. The findings have future implications for treating health conditions that impact working memory, such as ADHD. The promising results are encouraging, and we are eager to see continuous positive results as larger, more rigorous studies on diverse populations are tapped into for further determination of the effectiveness of laser light therapy to improve cognition. Promoting Emotional Balance Emotional balance is a cornerstone of mental well-being, and red and near infrared light laser therapy holds promise in promoting emotional stability and resilience. The therapy's ability to stimulate the release of endorphins and modulate neurochemical activity can lead to an improved emotional state. Benefits of red light exposure has been found to reduce feelings of stress, enhance emotional regulation, and promote relaxation. This therapy may be particularly advantageous for individuals experiencing chronic stress or emotional dysregulation, offering a gentle and non-invasive approach to restoring emotional balance. Complementary Therapy for Seasonal Affective Disorder Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression associated with changes in seasons, particularly during the winter months. Red light laser therapy can serve as a complementary treatment for individuals experiencing SAD. The therapy mimics natural sunlight, which is often limited during the darker months, and can help regulate circadian rhythms and boost mood. By providing a supplemental light source, red light laser therapy can alleviate symptoms of SAD, such as low energy, mood fluctuations, and decreased motivation. Physical and Somatic Disorders Chronic pain is a somatic distress that can be a message to us all that we have layers of healing to process. Despite this awareness that the body keeps the score of all our unresolved losses and traumas, relief and healing of the body is the loudest cry that needs addressing so concentration of the other areas can occur. And red light laser therapy has been shown to be effective in reducing pain caused by a variety of conditions, including arthritis, fibromyalgia, and chronic headaches. It has been shown to be effective in reducing the symptoms of pain, fatigue, and cognitive impairment from these somatic distresses. Conclusion Red light laser therapy holds significant potential as a non-invasive and versatile treatment for promoting mental well-being. It is a safe and the effectiveness of red light treatment for a variety of mental health conditions is truly phenomenal. If you are struggling with depression, anxiety, PTSD and other mental health condition, including need for wound healing for somatic distress, then red and near infrared light laser therapy might be right for you. All of this combined and integrated in the therapy are engaged in already will only accentuates your healing process. This is one of many holistic integral therapy modalities we offer here at A Place to Turn. It is through addressing all of you that healing occurs, this is the mind, body spirit healing place to apply all that you have and HIT a home run for lasting health.
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