Ultra Violet or Light Therapy is exposure to specific wavelengths of light or sunlight. It is used to treat a variety of conditions and is usually prescribed through your physician for these purposes. UV Light therapy is a mood altering therapy.
Sunlight we can of course come by naturally. Specific wavelengths of light are achieved through the use of a light box. Artificial light boxes are used for a prescribed amount of time each day and depending on the condition, it may be prescribed to be used at a certain time of day. UV is also used in tanning beds.
Ultra Violet is used treat jaundice at birth. Therapy directed to the skin can also benefit people with acne and psoriasis or eczema. UV radiation reduces the inflammatory response by suppressing the immune system. To treat circadian rhythm disorders like delayed sleep phase syndrome the light therapy is directed at the retina of the eyes.
Direct sunlight is the best treatment for seasonal affective disorder. However in some regions of the world this is just not possible and light boxes are used as effective treatment for the disorder. There have been some findings that it may be effective for some non seasonal psychiatric disorders. There has been some success in reducing the tremors of Parkinson’s disease with bright light therapy.
Overexposure to ultra violet light can damage the skin. We see this with sunburns and it has been attributed to skin cancers as well. There are some conditions in which exposure to UV light it completely contraindicated. Persons who are more sensitive to photo toxicity or who have porphyria should not participate in UV therapy.
Also if you are taking certain medications that cause photosensitivity or have a photosensitive skin condition you should avoid this type of therapy. When being used to treat sleep phase disorder there have been reported side effects such as headache, nausea and jitteriness.
If you have a tendency towards mania or manic conditions check with your physician before beginning any type of light therapy. Since this therapy is considered to be a mood altering therapy it is possible to affect a manic state from a depressed person which will cause extreme anxiety and other possible side effects. These are usually controllable but it is strongly recommended that you seek the advice of your physician before you participate in these therapies.