Please Note: If suicidal thoughts are accompanying depression, please find professional medical advice immediately or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Unfortunately, far too many individuals lose their life to depression every year. This clinical mood disorder is a serious condition that requires immediate attention. Living with depression can be lonely and isolating: During these states, the bleak fog of depression can cloud every thought and action. Sinking into the abyss of depression is dismal for the individual experiencing depression as well as difficult for their friends and relatives. Cases of depression are rising and affecting individuals from all walks of life, social stratospheres, and geographical locations.
According to the World Health Organization, 300 million people around the world are currently living with depression.
Anyone at any time during his or her life can be affected by depression. Today, the leading cause of disability for individuals between the ages of 19 and 44 is major depression. With such a large demographic affected by depression, only 36% reach out for help. This suggests that the other 66 % live in silence with their debilitating emotional state.
What stops individuals from getting the help they need for chronic cases of depression? There are several prohibitive factors for individuals living with depression that prevent them from reaching out for help, one of these is that traditional treatments involve the immediate prescription of pharmaceuticals to elevate mood without the exploration of alternative care.
For individuals looking to a natural resolution for depression, infrared sauna therapy may be an effective tool to raise and stabilize mood without adding chemical-based pills into their body.
Beyond melancholy and despondency, depression saturates every cell of the body and it is no longer a matter of changing perception or attitude. For many individuals suffering from depression, a biochemical change needs to occur in the mood centers of the brain. Unfortunately, many of the current antidepressants available on the market today are accompanied by a long list of negative side effects.
So, can regular broad spectrum infrared sauna therapy help alleviate symptoms of depression?
Understanding the unique relationship between the infrared light spectrum and the cellular network of the human body will shed light on how infrared sauna therapy can be an effective tool to relieve symptoms of depression.
What Is Clinical Depression? Understand The Distinct Categories Of Depression And What Causative Factors Are At Play In Creating The Condition
- Major Depression, Unipolar Depression (Clinical Depression)
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
- Postpartum Depression (PPD)
- Premenstrual Dysphoric Syndrome (PMDS)
- Bipolar Disorder (BPD) (1)
Every human on the planet at some point or another will experience sadness and grief. Loss of a loved one, financial collapse, and general disappointments surrounding life events will cause anyone to experience a lower mood. Sadness, despondency, grief, disappointment, and any other less than joyful mood are not depression, but rather the natural expression of the range of human emotion.
Within the spectrum of depression, there is a continuum from mild transient depression to severe chronic conditions. Additionally, there are different types of depression stemming from varying causes. Clinical depression occurs when the depression passes into its more severe expression and requires professional assistance (1).
An individual may be experiencing clinical levels of depression, and yet remain in silence without appropriate help. Previously called ‘clinical depression’, it is now referred to as major depression or unipolar depression. Postpartum or premenstrual dysphoric disorder can fall under the category of major depression even if the source of lowered mood is hormonal.
Please note: For the purposes of this article, bipolar disorder will not be addressed as the complexities of this condition are beyond the scope of biochemical changes occurring as a result of infrared light exposure.
Signs And Symptoms Of Major Depression:
- Feelings of sadness or emptiness
- Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Weight and appetite changes
- Sleep problems
- Feelings of being either slowed down or excessively agitated
- Tiredness and lack of energy
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Problems with concentration and making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide (1)
While the direct cause of depression in different individuals varies greatly, there is still little known about its specific origin. Although factors contributing to postpartum depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, seasonal affective disorder, and major unipolar depression are significantly different, what they do have in common are mood-regulating chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters that are not functioning at their optimum capacity (2).
When mood-stabilizing neurotransmitters are working properly, even when grief occurs, there is ultimately a ricochet effect on mood and the person will eventually regain homeostasis. When the mood is lowered in states of depression for prolonged periods of time, it is necessary to augment serotonin production, and therefore melatonin, to regulate mood.
Many traditional pharmaceutical medications used in the treatment of depression in recent years fall under the class of ‘Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors’ (SSRIs). This type of pharmaceutical classification specifically works to augment serotonin uptake to stabilize mood in patients suffering from depression. While this may be an appropriate treatment method for many individuals, the side effects can be harsh and perhaps undesirable (2).
Individuals looking to increase serotonin production naturally will find great solace in knowing that regular exposure to infrared light will have a comparable effect on brain chemistry as the traditional pharmaceutical SSRIs without any of the side effects (3).
If you or someone you love is currently on an SSRI program it is imperative that any reduction in medication consumption be closely monitored by a healthcare professional. Coming off of SSRI medication without the assistance of a medical professional, sadly, can have lethal consequences.
Infrared sauna therapy is not a substitution for prescribed allopathic treatments for depression, but rather provides an alternative to those unable to take pharmaceutical medication, and could complement any traditional treatment program. It is safe to begin an infrared sauna therapy treatment program and simultaneously engage in pharmaceutical treatments for depression (3).
Individuals suffering from mild to major depression require greater amounts of pleasure hormones and chemicals within the body and brain to raise mood from lower states to stabilized fields of emotional clarity. Infrared sauna therapy may enhance the production of pleasure hormones and appropriate neurotransmitter uptake in the brain to provide a more joyful life experience.
A Happy Fix: Infrared Light Therapy Releases Dopamine, Endorphins, And Stabilizes Serotonin Production
Several biochemical changes occur in the body as a result of exposure to near, mid, and far-infrared light. The triad effect of increased release of dopamine (a neurotransmitter), beta-endorphins (a neuropeptide hormone), and serotonin (the precursor to melatonin) during and after an infrared sauna therapy sessions may raise as well as stabilize mood (4).
This cascade of pleasure hormones released in response to the infrared light wavelengths makes this particular healing modality an excellent choice for individuals suffering from depression.
Exposure to the infrared light spectrum increases the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for sensations of euphoria and extreme joy. This coupled with the high levels of endorphins released allows individuals to buoyantly rise out of states of depression (4).
The levels of endorphins released during an infrared sauna session lasting 30 minutes can be up to three times as much as it would be during a moderate jog lasting 30 minutes. Under the influence of the warm rays of broad-spectrum, infrared light serotonin levels are normalized. This is important not only to raise the joy factor in our mood but also because serotonin is a precursor to melatonin (5).
Fragmented or lack of sleep is a contributing factor to depression. Without proper sleep throughout the night, it is very difficult to raise mood levels. In the center of the brain exists a pinecone-shaped gland called the pineal gland, where serotonin is converted into melatonin. When melatonin levels are higher, sleep comes on with greater ease and individuals are able to sleep restfully throughout the night (6).
Regular exposure to infrared light (at least three times per week) may augment the release of dopamine and endorphins as well as a raise serotonin levels to improve overall mood. Additionally, as serotonin levels normalize, melatonin increases and individuals sleep better.
The confluence of increased dopamine and endorphins, coupled with elevated serotonin levels during and after an infrared sauna session, creates the ideal hormonal cocktail to increase mood and step out of states of depression.
The Partnership Of Anxiety And Depression: Find Relief From Anxiety As The Body And Mind Enter States Of Relaxation In An Infrared Sauna
The autonomic nervous system, responsible for determining states of being within the body and mind, receives palpable benefits from time spent under the influence of infrared light. The autonomic nervous system is divided into two distinct branches: Sympathetic dominance (fight or flight/survival) and parasympathetic dominance (relaxation, digestion, restoration) (6).
Sympathetic dominance is an important state of being under certain circumstances, namely when the physical body is under threat; this adrenalized state allows the mind and body to seek refuge from imminent danger. Unfortunately, in our modern world, there are many triggers that will transfer the nervous system into fight or flight dominance. In reality, many of these triggers do not pose a real threat to our life. Sitting in traffic, overuse of screens or an argument with a spouse can push the body into a sympathetic dominance. Typically, in these situations, it is not appropriate to flee or fight. Anxiety is experienced when this energy does not move out of the body and sits in the pit of the abdomen.
Unprocessed adrenaline and cortisol that is excreted under states of stress response linger as anxiety. To effectively disengage the body from anxiety, states of relaxation must be reached. As many have experienced, simply hoping for anxiety to go away does not work. Stepping into a broad spectrum infrared sauna will quickly transfer the body from states of the stress response (anxiety) back into states of relaxation, nourishment, and restoration.
Infrared sauna therapy may provide a glorious release from anxiety by allowing individuals to fall into states of relaxation. As anxiety is alleviated under the relaxing influence of infrared light, positive hormones are released and chemicals responsible for elevated states of mood are increased to create a recipe for anyone affected by depression and anxiety.
Infrared Sauna Therapy Increases Health And Vitality To Alleviate Symptoms Of Chronic Conditions Contributing To Depression
- Chronic Fatigue
- Thyroid Imbalances
- Adrenal Fatigue
- Rheumatoid Arthritis (7)
While there is no definitive cause for depression, medical professionals do understand that there is a correlation between lowered moods and certain chronic conditions.
Living with a chronic condition that has no known cure can be a contributing factor for depressed states of being. Additionally, depression can be a symptom of certain chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia, adrenal fatigue, and thyroid imbalances (7).
Regular infrared sauna therapy will increase blood circulation to decrease chronic inflammation and therefore pain. Individuals living with chronic pain in the body will find excellent symptom relief from infrared sauna therapy.
Drawing the body out of states of stress response will allow individuals to sleep better throughout the night and therefore experience greater degrees of cellular regeneration. We all know how well we feel after a good night’s sleep. Continued restful nights of deep sleep and reduced pain will improve the mood of individuals living with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Infrared sauna therapy also helps with autoimmune disorders by drawing individuals out of stress response, a known trigger for many conditions, back into states of rest and recovery.
Specific biochemical changes in the mood centers of the brain, due to infrared light therapy, as well as the overall increase of vitality, make it possible to step out of states of depression without the assistance of pharmaceutical treatment.
Step Out From States Of Depression To Achieve Elevated And Stabilized Mood Through Regular Infrared Sauna Therapy
Depression is a serious epidemic spreading among the world’s population. This condition often goes untreated leaving millions to suffer in silence, at times with lethal consequences. The allopathic model of solution typically involves treating individuals suffering from depression with pharmaceutical grade antidepressants coupled with talk therapy.
Unfortunately, many antidepressants are accompanied by negative side effects that may not be tolerable for many. Talk therapy can be helpful and even imperative at times, but essentially, a biochemical transformation in the mood centers of the brain is required.
Gratefully, there is an alternative for individuals looking to stabilize moods without using pharmaceutical prescription drugs: Regular broad spectrum infrared sauna therapy. This alternative treatment can be used in conjunction with pharmaceutical antidepressants or as a single operative treatment.
If you are suffering in silence with depression there is a viable solution for you that may raise and stabilize moods. Ultimately, every human alive today deserves to experience joy and step out of the shackles of depression.
Freedom from chronic depression may be found through regular broad-spectrum infrared sauna therapy without any negative side effects. In fact, as symptoms of depression are alleviated, the entire body will respond with elevated health and vitality.