Light Therapy & Co. For Depression

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Light Therapy & Co. For Depression
Light Therapy & Co. For Depression
Video: Light Therapy & Co. For Depression
Video: What is Light Therapy? Does it Help? 2023, February

Depression: other therapies

For depression, not only drugs or psychotherapy are used, other treatment methods are also available - such as sleep deprivation or light therapy. Exercise can also help you overcome depression more easily.

It is also important that depressed patients have a regular daily routine.


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  • Waking therapy (sleep deprivation therapy)
  • light therapy
  • Electroconvulsive therapy
  • Body training
  • Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS)
  • Other therapeutic approaches

Waking therapy (sleep deprivation therapy)

In the 1960s it was observed by chance how some depressed patients felt better for one or more days after a sleepless night. Further research on this provides the basis for the sleep deprivation treatment used today.

There are two types of sleep deprivation:

  • total sleep deprivation (all night),
  • partial (partial) sleep deprivation (in the second half of the night, the patient is woken up at around one in the morning),

This form of therapy brings good, albeit short-term, results, but those affected can experience it as very exhausting.

light therapy

The light therapy ("phototherapy") shows good results in the so-called "autumn-winter depression" (seasonally dependent depression), with light and moderate episodes. The patient is exposed to bright light with an intensity of 5000 lux (unit for illuminance) for around thirty to forty minutes, usually around 10,000 lux (bright daylight). The UV light component is filtered out. That is many times brighter than the usual room illuminance. The patient is asked to look into the light for a few seconds every minute. The treatment is usually carried out for about 30 minutes at least three times a week. It can be done all winter.

Electroconvulsive therapy

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is an effective treatment for therapy-resistant and severe depression. If two therapy attempts with antidepressants of different drug classes and psychotherapy have not led to improvement, ECT can be considered. Thereafter, maintenance therapy with medication and psychotherapy should be carried out (possibly with renewed ECT).

In electroconvulsive therapy, a generalized seizure is artificially generated by electrical excitation of the brain. This is done under controlled conditions under short anesthesia.

Body training

Mood-enhancing effects of endurance sport in depressive illnesses could be observed. This is why exercise is often incorporated as part of the treatment, such as jogging, walking or cycling. You should not train with maximum performance and initially only under medical supervision.

According to the guidelines of the American College of Sports Medicine, the following exercise recommendations are made for patients with depressive disorder:

  • moderate aerobic endurance training for at least 30 minutes on at least five days a week,
  • intensive training for at least 20 minutes on at least three days a week,
  • a combination of both.

These recommendations apply to patients for whom nothing speaks against physical strain. The training should take place under expert guidance. For more information on supportive exercise measures for illnesses, see Exercise Therapy.

Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS)

In repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), neurons in the cerebral cortex are stimulated from the outside by electromagnetic induction. The rTMS of the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (cerebral cortex) can be considered in patients who initially do not respond to antidepressants.

Other therapeutic approaches

Physiotherapy or occupational therapy can also be helpful. In addition, other therapy methods can also be used, e.g. music therapy.

Note For depressed patients it is very important that the days are subject to a regular schedule. The discovery of previously unknown - for example creative - skills can also be helpful and strengthen self-confidence.

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