New light therapy for burnout and depression

New light therapy for burnout and depression

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Light therapy for burnout and depression

The amount of light that people get in this country is not particularly high due to the frequent stay indoors. This can not only have a negative impact on the mind, but can also make you sick. Scientists are now researching whether special light therapies can alleviate the symptoms of burnout.

Lack of daylight, especially in winter. The amount of light absorbed is drastically reduced by permanent office work and frequent stays indoors. This not only has a negative effect on well-being, but can even make you sick. Especially in the winter months, when the days are short and gray, there is a lack of light. Some people then fall into a winter depression or get other health problems. It has been known for centuries that light has a positive effect on mood and well-being. Austrian scientists are now researching whether light therapies can alleviate burnout symptoms.

Seasonal depression The human body produces more endorphins under the influence of sunlight and increasingly releases the mood-enhancing messenger serotonin. On dark days, on the other hand, the hormone melatonin, which affects the sleep-wake rhythm of the body and depresses the mood, is increasingly formed. "This can also be the trigger for an autumn-winter depression," explains Elisabeth Weiss from the Institute of Psychology at the University of Graz, according to a report by the "ORF". There is now good data on the effectiveness of light therapy for this seasonal depression (SAD). The scientists now suspect that additional exposure to light could also be helpful in the event of burnout.

Burnout syndrome difficult to distinguish from depression According to Weiss, fatigue syndrome is difficult to distinguish from depression. It was therefore obvious to rely on this form of therapy here too. First results of a study with burnout patients are said to be available. Depression, lack of concentration, chronic fatigue, and an emotional distance from work were among the first signs of burnout syndrome, experts say. Some patients also report that they experience a strong inner restlessness, bouts of heart palpitations with a racing pulse or problems with digestion.

Three-week light therapy The researchers at the University of Graz are now investigating the effectiveness of a three-week light therapy. Lamps with an illuminance of 10,000 lux are used, which simulate the light of a cloudy day and thus allow conclusions to be drawn about the mood, cognition and symptoms of burnout sufferers. So far, the results have shown that the regular light sessions have a positive effect on mood and exhaustion: "There are demonstrable changes at the neurotransmitter level," says Weiss. In addition to the therapy of mental illnesses, light is also used to treat skin diseases such as neurodermatitis. (ad)

Image: Andreas Hermsdorf /

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