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 causes of depression in modern world people. Blue light contributes to both types of depression: clinical depression and winter depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

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

Link Between Blue Light and Clinical Depression

Blue type of light is responsible for disturbing our sleep cycle and hormonal imbalance, which can attribute 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. Blue light in 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 all types of blue 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 common reason for depression in some cases. 

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 blue light, then this is causing a huge problem. Our exposure to bluish light at night time is especially harmful when emitted from 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. However, 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 related to blue type of light. This is not overexposure; in this case, those people are receiving less bluish light to maintain their circadian rhythm.

The reason is due to short days and less sunlight; some people cannot 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 some types of blue light is sometimes responsible for eye strain and other disorders.

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

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