Can Red Light Therapy Help Reduce Oxidative Stress and Improve Mental Health?
Is oxidative stress affecting your mental health? It’s possible! Oxidative stress is a natural state that affects almost everyone. Although common, it can cause severe health issues, including mental health-related ones.
The term "mental health" encompasses emotional, psychological, and social well-being, influencing our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Mental wellness is pivotal in determining how we cope with stress, make decisions, and engage with others.
Fortunately, you can address oxidative stress to support your mental health and well-being – and using red light therapy can help.
Oxidative Stress and Mental Health
Free Radicals and Antioxidants
In a process known as cellular respiration, most cells of the human body use oxygen to extract energy from glucose (sugar). While this process is highly efficient at providing your body cells with the energy they need to function, cellular respiration creates unstable atoms or molecules known as free radicals.
Most stable atoms have an even number of electrons. When atoms have an odd number of electrons, they try to “steal” electrons from another atom to become stable again – they become free radicals.
Free radicals react quickly with other compounds and usually attack the nearest stable molecules. Stealing electrons causes those once-stable atoms or molecules to become unstable, so they turn into free radicals and start attacking their neighbors.
Fortunately, the human body has natural antioxidants, which are molecules that give up their electrons to stabilize the free radicals without becoming unstable themselves. Ideally, the body would produce enough antioxidants to keep free radicals in check, but this is not always the case – exercise, pollution, ozone, and other environmental stresses can cause the body to produce more free radicals than antioxidants, creating an unhealthy imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants. Healthcare professionals refer to this state of imbalance as oxidative stress.
Does Oxidative Stress Cause Mental Health Issues?Oxidative stress can damage almost every part of body cells, including the membrane, proteins, lipids (fats), and even the DNA. This damage can lead to a number of health issues, such as premature aging, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and even cancer. Damage from oxidative stress is also associated with neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Researchers are still working to understand the exact mechanism by which oxidative stress affects mental health. The human brain uses a lot of oxygen, has weak antioxidant defenses, and is nearly 60 percent fat, which makes it vulnerable to oxidative stress. The damage caused by oxidative stress can affect the brain and nervous system in ways that may trigger depression and anxiety.
Oxidative stress can also have an indirect effect on mental health. Many of the conditions and diseases associated with oxidative stress cause discomfort or pain or prevent you from going to work, taking care of your family, or doing the things that you enjoy – and these experiences can cause moodiness, anxiety, depression, and other unhealthy emotional states.
Fortunately, you can reduce oxidative stress and improve your mental health by:
- Eating foods that contain antioxidants
- Reducing stress
- Limit your intake of fat, sugar, and processed foods
- Improve your lifestyle
- Manage stress
- Avoid environmental causes of oxidative stress.
Red Light Therapy for Mental Health
Red light therapy is emerging as an effective, safe, and comfortable treatment for improving mental health by reducing oxidative stress.
This non-invasive treatment uses specific wavelengths of light to stimulate beneficial cellular activity. Light travels in waves, and scientists measure light wavelengths in nanometers (nm). Light takes on color at some wavelengths.
At various wavelengths, light penetrates the skin at different depths and triggers different activities in the cells and tissues.
Benefits and Risks of Red Light Therapy for Mental Health
As with any treatment, there are benefits and risks of red light therapy for mental health.
- Is non-invasive
- Requires no downtime
- Helps reduce inflammation
- Eases pain
- Enhances circulation, boosts collagen production, and promotes healing
- Helps with skin conditions
- Potential for overuse
- Requires multiple treatments
- Not always covered by insurance
Who Is a Good Candidate for Red Light Therapy for Mental Health?
We all could use some help boosting our mental health these days, as it is nearly impossible to avoid stress and anxiety these days. Fortunately, red light therapy is appropriate for almost everyone.
Red light therapy stands as a promising and comfortable solution to reduce oxidative stress and improve mental health. By incorporating this non-invasive treatment into your wellness routine, you can take a significant step towards a healthier and more balanced lifestyle.
Note: Speak to a health and wellness professional experienced in using red light therapy for mental health.