Blue Light and Depression-Here’s what you need to know

According to the world health organization, globally, 264 million people of all ages suffer from depression.

It is a severe multifactorial mental illness. Blue type light is one of the growing cause of depression in the modern world people. Bluish light contributes to both types of depressions: clinical depression and winter depression or seasonal affective disorder.

We know that bluish light is high energy visible light of the light spectrum. It’s wavelength ranges from 380-500 nm (nanometers). The primary source of bluish light is the sun, while other sources include LEDs, Computer screens, smartphones, and tablets.

Blue light wavelength ranges from 380-500nm(nanometers).

Link Between Blue Light and Clinical Depression

Blue type of light is responsible for disturbing our sleep cycle and hormonal imbalance, which then leads to depression.

Sleep Disturbance

We have a standard 24-hour cycle known as the circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythm is a cycle that tells our body about daytime and nighttime. Circadian rhythm is maintained by a hormone named melatonin.

At the time of sunrise or dawn time, when sunlight hits our eyes, it gives a signal to suppress melatonin production, which is responsible for sleep. Sunlight has many types of lights. Bluish light in the sunlight is responsible for this specific response.

When night comes, and bluish light is almost zero, it signals the pineal gland to produce melatonin. The normal production of melatonin is responsible for our better sleep.

In this era, we all are using digital devices all the time. Digital devices like computers and smartphones emit blue type of light. When we use our smartphones or computers late in the night, this light suppresses melatonin production, which is our sleep hormone.

Suppression of melatonin is the primary reason behind the disturbance of our sleep cycle. Not getting proper sleep is a great reason for depression. So, in this way, this type of light is contributing to depression.

Signs of clinical depression are.

  • Feelings of sadness and hopelessness
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Over appetite
  • Carb cravings
  • Suicidal thoughts

Hormonal Disturbance

This blue type of light is indirectly responsible for our alertness and maintaining the balance of our body. This light is responsible for the secretion of adrenaline and cortisol hormones. These hormones are related to normal body function, but they cause problems if they are being excreted in excess.  

Cortisone is a hormone that is released in a situation called “fight and flight.” Simply it means this hormone is responsible for keeping us alert and ready for any abnormal condition.

So, if our body keeps remaining alert during the night because of exposure to bluish light, then it is causing a huge problem. Our exposure to bluish light at nighttime is especially through computers, smartphones, and LEDs.

Link Between Blue Light and Winter Depression or SAD

During the fall or winter months, some people feel depressed, sad, and irritable. Besides this, they remain happy and well during the remaining year or summer months. This is a condition known as seasonal affective disorder or sometimes called winter depression.

The reason behind this winter depression is also blue type of light. There is no overexposure; in this case, instead, those people are receiving less bluish light to maintain their circadian rhythm.

The reason is due to short days and less sunlight; some people can not receive enough bluish light from the sun to maintain their natural circadian rhythm (the 24-hour cycle).

Signs of SAD (seasonal affective disorder) are.

  • Sadness and hopelessness
  • Losing interest in healthy activities like socializing
  • Sleepiness and fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Increased appetite
  • Loss of interest in sex

What can I do for Blue light Clinical Depression?

You can make the following lifestyle changes to get rid of clinical depression caused by this light.

1. Blue light Glasses

It would help if you used special blocking glasses made for this light to reduce your exposure to the bluish light. A variety of this type of blocking glasses are available in the market. These will help you maintain your natural circadian rhythm that will lead to proper sleep.

2. Blue light Filters

You can use filters made especially for your computers and even for your mobile phones to reduce your exposure to bluish light from your computer or smartphone screen.

What can I do for SAD or Winter Depression?

Blue light therapy (BLT) is a non-drug therapy invented, especially for winter depression or seasonal affective disorder patients. In this, you have to sit in front of special lamps that emit bluish light for 30-40 minutes daily.

Be very careful while choosing a lamp for BLT. Some doctors suggest that white light-emitting lamps are more beneficial then bluish light-emitting lamps. Because blue type of light sometimes is responsible for eye strain and other disorders.

Although there are many factors behind depression, including blue light, this light still needs more research. So, until science does its work, you should adopt some preventive measures to reduce your exposure to bluish light. 

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