Can Bright Light Therapy Help with PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event, such as a natural disaster, war, or a serious accident. Memories of their experiences can be triggered by loud noises, memories, or even smells, and these triggers can lead to panic attacks and depressive thoughts.
Those with PTSD can suffer from persistent negative thoughts, and may avoid certain situations that remind them of their triggers in an effort to avoid unpleasant experiences.
Because bright light therapy has been shown effective in people suffering from depression, can it help those who suffer from PTSD?
Studies on PTSD & Bright Light Therapy
A 2010 study supported by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Merit Award surveyed 16 veterans of combat in Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom.
All the combat veterans returned from service with combat-related PTSD symptoms, including depressive symptoms, negative thoughts, sleep disturbances, and panic attacks. Eight of the soldiers received 30 minutes of bright light therapy with a 10,000 lux bright light therapy box per day, while the other eight were given placebo treatment with an inactivated negative ion generator.
In those study participants who received bright light therapy, reported instances of sleep disturbances decreased significantly. These subjects’ depressive symptoms and PTSD symptoms also decreased.
While the greatest decrease seen in this study was in sleep disturbances, the researchers believe that the positive changes to the soldiers’ sleep habits helped them experience less intense, frequent PTSD and depressive symptoms due to their increased quality of sleep.
Another study, from 2016, used wearable bright light therapy devices.
In this study, overall subject compliance with therapy was much lower, with approximately 75 percent of respondents wearing their device, and most wearing it for lower than recommended.
However, those subjects that did comply with the study’s instructions experienced a circadian shift. They began to wake earlier and also experienced a statistically significant decrease in their overall PTSD symptoms.
So, Can Bright Light Therapy Help PTSD?
While these two studies aren’t a completely definitive answer, they would suggest that, yes, bright light therapy can help with some of the symptoms related to PTSD.
If you’re considering adding bright light therapy as part of your daily routine and overall PTSD treatment, consult with your doctor first to make sure it’s a safe option for you.
Your Online Source for Bright Light Therapy Boxes
At the Sunbox Company, we want to make sure that everyone considering bright light therapy has a high-quality device to meet their needs. Whether you plan to do all your bright light therapy at home, or you need something you can carry with you on the go, we’ve got an option for everyone! Order yours today!