The effectiveness of antidepressants can boost the sensitivity to light, and therefore those who take such medication should expose to sunlight as much as possible. On the other hand, artificial light, especially the blue light emitted by the smartphone screens, for example, can disrupt the drugs’ effectiveness. The discovery was made by researchers at Monash University, in Melbourne, Australia.
During the research, a single dose of citalopram was given to 12 people who did not suffer from depression. Their sensitivity to light, measured by recording changes in melatonin when they looked at a lamp, increased by 50% after taking the pill.
Sensitivity to light is vital to good health because the brain uses light levels to regulate the body’s internal clock, wrote Sean Cain, professor of psychology, and the study’s leading author.
“If the brain thinks that everything is darker than it really is, it indicates that it is night, making us drowsy and lethargic. These are also the common symptoms of depression,” Cain added.
Sunlight might fight depression by increasing antidepressants effectiveness
Antidepressants, on the other hand, allow the person to feel better, improving sensitivity to light to a normal level. That, in turn, allows the body clock to synchronize correctly with the time of day, the scientist said.
The study also showed that sunlight has a powerful effect on mood, so, by enhancing sensitivity to light, the sunlight can be even more powerful. The research also seems to provide an answer to another question about antidepressants, namely, why do they seem to be more effective on those who get up early than on night owls?
According to experts, whoever works the night shift, watches TV until late in the night or uses the smartphone in bed, is exposed to bright light in the middle of the night, which can interfere with the body clock, deceiving the brain which thinks it’s day. When using antidepressants, increased sensitivity to light can magnify the beneficial effects of the medication.