An article I wrote recently lead me to some interesting reading online, namely studies on treating depression with light and sound. Intrigued by what I read I dove deeper, and uncovered lots more information. I found out that the use of light and sound therapy is nothing new but what I discovered was new to me. It could be new to you too and might possibly benefit you in some way? Following that logic, I decided to share what I discovered on how to treat depression naturally.
I want this post to be useful and beneficial to you and me. That said, I have added affiliate links to this article and would love it if you decide to use them. 😘
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Trust Me, I'm Not A Doctor
I blog about how to build up self-esteem in a variety of ways but I am not a doctor. Therapy and sometimes medication is used in the treatment of depression and if you are being treated as such then you must seek guidance before trying any supplement programs.
Light and sound therapy is the main focus of this article but it is not the only way to help treat depression naturally. The main ways to treat depression naturally are really just about self-care and looking after yourself.
Start with these 7 ways:
1. Exercise your body – it doesn’t have to be anything strenuous. Gentle stretching, brisk walking or use your body weight to strengthen your muscles.
2. Eat fruit and/or vegetables every day. Reduce processed food.
3. Keep hydrated at all times by drinking plenty of water.
4. Keep being involved with things and people, and try not to cut yourself off from everybody and everything.
5. As hard as it may seem, gently push yourself to try new things. The new experience and sense of achievement will lift you.
6. Be mindful of what you are thinking and challenge negative thoughts – work on changing the negative self-talk.
7. Get the sleep you need – every night. (Light and sound therapy can assist with sleeping soundly, more on that later).
They’re the basics for treating depression naturally but I want to tell you about light and sound therapy. It became apparent from reading about this subject that even though evidence shows that light and sound works it is still doubted and not used when it could be.
There are reasons for this that I will explain later.
Depression is characterized as a prolonged state of feeling sad and hopeless. It can be triggered by life events or seemingly come from no-where. What is known is that over time it can affect how you feel about yourself and lead to poor self-esteem. The reasons for the depression could be due to health issues, hormone imbalance, or chemical imbalances in the brain. However, no one really knows for sure as the brain is a complex organ.
There are various symptoms and they are different from person to person. They can include no energy, unable to concentrate, and irritability. Levels of depression range from complete despair to feeling “down” all the time and unable to move out of the depressed mood.
As mentioned before treatments can include therapy and/or medication. Depending on where you live and the health care provider you speak to, they may (or may not) discuss using bright light therapy OR light and sound therapy.
Bright light therapy (BLT) is more well known in the treatment of SAD (Social Anxiety Disorder) but there is also a lot of evidence for using BLT in the effective treatment of NS-MDD (Non-Seasonal – Major Depression Disorder).
Bright Light Therapy For Depression
SAD is a depression that hits people in the winter. People that suffer from this will sleep more, move less, and eat a lot of carbs. I know, as I used to get like that when I used to live in the country I was born in. Before you ask, no, I didn’t use light or sound therapy because I’d never heard of it back then. (I wish I had).
Treating both SAD and NS-MDD with BLT is overwhelmingly beneficial. The bright lights stimulate the brain chemicals and patients feel better, happier and their mood is lifted.
A group of doctors reviewed and analyzed results from a range of sources that had researched the effects on BLT for depression. They conclusively stated that it was an accepted form of treatment. The results:
“Ten studies involving 458 patients showed improvement using bright light therapy augmentation versus antidepressant pharmacotherapy alone.”Pharmacotherapy for Treatment of Depression: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Another document I read pointed at the speed of the BLT treatment working, with the effects being felt immediately. The patients received 1 hour of BLT and 1 hour of placebo dim red light in a randomized order.
“When light effects were grouped for the two sessions, there was significantly greater reduction in self-report depression…..A significant but modest improvement was detected after a single active light session. This is the first study, to our knowledge, to document an immediate improvement with light treatment using a placebo-controlled design with a clinical sample of depressed individuals.”Improvement in Depression Scores After 1 Hour of Light Therapy Treatment in Patients With Seasonal Affective Disorder
The evidence is immense for treating depression with BLT but what about sound therapy?
Sound Therapy For Depression
Music is uplifting if you listen to your favorite songs and most of us have experienced that. But what’s happening in our brains when we listen to sounds?
The Greeks, Egyptians, and ancient scientists were all fascinated with the effects of sound on our brains. The rhythmic sound of drums was used in ceremonies and rituals to bring about different states of consciousness.
Beats, sounds, and tones tap into our brains and stimulate different parts. The frequencies induce relaxation, reduce stress, and release neurotransmitters (chemical messengers), such as dopamine, serotonin, and endorphin. Endorphins reduce depression (and anxiety) by giving a calming, relaxed feeling. Additionally, it gives out a pain-relieving effect. (Similarly when we exercise endorphins trigger a positive feel-good feeling in the body).
A recent paper from the journal Science Advances on the effect of sound frequencies on the brain has seen substantial results, namely in changing neurons in the brain.
“This way, you can change the activity of the neurons and also the connectivity between the stimulated neurons and their neighbors, which has the potential to return malfunctioning neural circuits back to their normal state.”Professor Jan Kubanek from the University of Utah
The ultrasounds were transported into the brains of monkeys and produced strong effects, showing the ability to make changes in behavior.
Kubanek won’t stop there and has said that he and his team have built a device that can be used on patients. It is currently a prototype but he plans to begin clinical trials in patients with major depression in three years.
So, light and sound therapy are NOT new and date back to ancient times. There is a staggering amount of evidence to prove that light and sound have a beneficial effect in the treatment of depression, and this article has touched on just a handful of those studies.
Having said all that, now imagine combining both light AND sound therapies and using BOTH to treat depression.
Light & Sound For Depression
When combining both therapies the patient will listen to sound through headphones and have lights flickered across their eyes. Using technology (mind machines), these lights and sounds are used to stimulate brain activity. The flickering light plus the sounds stimulate the brain waves to match a certain desired brain wave frequency rate (beta, alpha, or theta) depending on what is required, e.g. to treat depression symptoms.
Four studies to optimize brain function using light and sound therapy focused two of those studies on increasing mental and physical health, and concluded:
“It was concluded that the investigation of brain stimulation technique can be applied to induce favorable mental states to enlarge treatments of several disorders that affect humans in a safe and noninvasive way. It is suggested that positive results can also be found through the association of brain stimulation by light and sound with therapies that combat depression and anxiety states.”Stimulation by Light and Sound: Therapeutics Effects in Humans. Systematic Review
Cantor and Stevens took a group of patients that were resistant to the usual depression treatments and gave them light and sound therapy, or auditory-visual EEG entrainment (AVE). The main aim is to reduce depression and the results were great:
“Results revealed significant reduction of depression only after the 4 weeks on AVE therapy of the BDI–II scores (p > .01). QEEG scores adjusted for normal age deviations demonstrate significant EEG change scores over time in cortical regions associated with mood regulation.”QEEG Correlates of Auditory-Visual Entrainment Treatment Efficacy of Refractory Depression
They concluded that the AVE (or light and sound therapy) was a feasible nonmedication option to treat depression.
Kathy Berg and Dave Siever focused on the viability of using light and sound therapy for SAD patients. With 75 participants, and two groups they had a control group that received a placebo and the other group received the light and sound therapy. The results:
“The results indicated that the placebo phase produced mild reductions in depression and no improvements in anxiety sensitivity, whereas 20 Hz AVE reduced both depression and anxiety symptoms.”A Controlled Comparison of Audio-Visual Entrainment for Treating Seasonal Affective Disorder
“The 20 Hz AVE treatment condition also produced significant improvements in social life with the family and at work, and increased happiness and energy. The 20 Hz treatment also produced a significant decrease in eating, appetite, and carbohydrate intake.”A Controlled Comparison of Audio-Visual Entrainment for Treating Seasonal Affective Disorder
Light and sound technology or mind machines have been around for a while too and like PCs, over time have become more powerful and less expensive.
With a large number of studies showing a decrease in depression when using light and sound therapy coupled with the affordable, powerful devices to provide said treatment, It begs the question:
Why is this therapy not more widely used?
Why Is It Not Used Worldwide?
A prescription is not required and this could be seen as a limitation or benefit. Plus the makers of the light and sound devices have limited funds to be able to look into clinical trials to prove its efficiency. The full quote on this theory:
“The implications here are myriad. That BLT does not require a prescription by a licensed medical clinician (i.e. physician or nurse practitioner) may be interpreted as a limitation (i.e. we maintain that BLT should be exercised in concert with a clinician with knowledge of major depression, the various treatment options, and who has clinical experience with BLT) or a benefit (i.e. clinical psychologists may develop proficiency in the use of BLT for their patients). Furthermore, manufacturers of light-delivery devices have limited financial incentive to pursue efficacy trials, which constrains the literature on BLT. Such heterogeneity in the literature regarding BLT “may have created the unsubstantiated impression that the treatment itself has limitations in terms of its efficacy”The efficacy of light therapy in the treatment of mood disorders: A review and meta-analysis of the evidence. Golden R, Gaynes B, Ekstrom R, et al.
No doubt there are numerous reasons but I won’t waste my time thinking about it. Instead, I am delighted that there is such a wonderful and natural option available for people suffering from depression. These mind machines help with depression, anxiety, relaxation, pain management and assist in getting into a meditative state easily, plus much more.
MindPlace has been designing meditation technology since 1988 and they created The Kasina Mind Media System, which is one of the best mind machines ( light and sound machines) currently available.
The Kasina Mind Media System
Kasina system includes:
- An MP3 that holds over 50 sessions (plus more can be downloaded from SoundCloud and you can create your own).
- Ear-Bud style headphones
- Deep Vision GanzFrames designed to use with eyes open or closed.
Easy to use – sit or lay down and get comfortable. Put the ear-buds in and choose a track to focus on your desired outcome.
If you want to know more about the full benefits of the Kasina and how it works – read my article HERE.
One More Thing
Our minds are precious and as such should be treated with the utmost care. Whether you have depression, social anxiety, or addiction issues please do not suffer in silence because you don’t have to. Reach out to professionals, friends, or family.
Get what YOU need – therapy, medication or a mind machine – to get peace of mind.
I wish you well.
The name of The Game is Experience so let us experience Connecting and Sharing.
Have you used a mind machine or a light therapy device?
Share your experience in the comments below.
Save THIS PIN below to your Self-Care or Self-Hypnosis Board to check later and have the information easily at your finger tips.
Pharmacotherapy for Treatment of Depression: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis (https://www.psychiatrist.com/PCC/article/Pages/bright-light-therapy-augmentation-for-depression.aspx)
Bright light therapy for depression: A review of its effects on chronobiology and the autonomic nervous system (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5403163/)
Improvement in Depression Scores After 1 Hour of Light Therapy Treatment in Patients With Seasonal Affective Disorder https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5336550/
Depression and Sound Therapy https://mysoundtherapy.com/us/what-is-sound-therapy/emotional-stress-relief/depression/
Soothing with sound: ancient therapy used to treat anxiety, depression https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/soothing-with-sound-ancient-therapy-used-to-treat-anxiety-depression-1.3643773
Remote, brain region–specific control of choice behavior with ultrasonic waves https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/21/eaaz4193
Stimulation by Light and Sound: Therapeutics Effects in Humans. Systematic Review https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4493659/
QEEG Correlates of Auditory-Visual Entrainment Treatment Efficacy of Refractory Depression https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10874200902887130
A Controlled Comparison of Audio-Visual Entrainment for Treating Seasonal Affective Disorder https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10874200903107314