Color Therapy for Depression

Over the last few years, I have found that color therapy has really helped me. I had my colors done and found out that citrus orange, lemon and lime suit me best. Then I started buying clothes in these brighter colors and it transformed how I felt about myself and how other people reacted to me in a very positive way. Orange is a good color to wear to combat depression. I can definitely vouch for that. Make or buy some brightly colored posters for your walls and some cushions. Hot pink is a good color to snap you out of the blues. All of this will help take your mind off the unhappy aspects of your life and show you how much the world has to offer you in terms of beauty and joy (From Online Forum). 

Effects of Colors

Chromotherapy (light therapy) is a therapeutic science which has been used by many races for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians used specially built solarium rooms with different colored glasses. The sun would shine through the colored glass onto the patient to achieve specific therapeutic benefits. Others used different colored silk clothes to filter varying shades of light onto their bodies. There is also evidence of others using colored waters and colored gels to achieve the same results.

Recent research showed substantial proof that a blindfolded person will experience physiological reactions under different colored rays. In other words, the skin sees in Technicolor. Noted neuropsychologist Kurt Goldstein confirmed this information in his modern classic The Organism, where he notes that stimulation of the skin by different colors creates different effects.

Different colors are said to have different effects on people. When color therapy was being developed, the Russian scientist S.V. Krakov found that exposure to pure red light had a stimulating effect, while exposure to pure blue light has a sedative effect. Red light tends to speed up heart rate and respiration while increasing blood pressure, and blue light tends to slow heart rate and respiration and lower blood pressure.

The different colors you might be exposed to in color therapy are red, which promotes energy; orange, which promotes pleasure and enthusiasm; yellow, which promotes mental clarity; green, which promotes balance and calm; blue, which promotes good communication and knowledge; indigo, which is a sedative; and violet, which promotes enlightenment or spiritual awakening.

Color is Visible Light

Scientifically, it makes sense. Color is simply a form of visible light, of electromagnetic energy. Let's break it down. What exactly is light? It is the visible reflection off the particles in the atmosphere. Color makes up a band of these light wave frequencies from red at 1/33,000th's of an inch wavelength to violet at 1/67,000 of an inch wavelength. Below red lie infrared and radio waves. Above it: the invisible ultraviolet, x-rays, and gamma rays. We all understand the impact of ultraviolet and x-rays, do we not? Why then wouldn't the light we can see "as color" not have as big an impact?

How Does Color Therapy Heal?

Color therapists make use of a person's sensitivity to color to balance the flow of energy throughout the body. They believe that colors affect the vibrational energy that flows throughout every organ and system of the body. Accordingly, color therapy can be used to calm and soothe or stimulate and enhance mental, physical and spiritual energies. Wellness is achieved as energies throughout the body are balanced through color therapy.

Scientists explain the effects of color on our moods, thoughts and behavior in terms of physiological processes. Colors are light energies of certain wavelengths, and studies have confirmed that exposure to colors has a direct effect on the pituitary and pineal glands.

Stimulation of these glands affects hormonal production and their release, and this affects the systems of the body in a variety of ways. As an example, scientific studies conducted in 1942 demonstrated that the sympathetic nervous system is stimulated by exposure to red light, and the parasympathetic nervous system is stimulated by exposure to white and blue light.

Although color is visible light energy, scientists believe it is not necessary to see color in order for it to affect the body. The body can sense and react to color through energy vibrations, so even the blind are affected by color.

Color therapists and scientists may not agree on precisely how color can help improve physical and mental health, but they do agree that the effects colors have on people are significant. Color has real physiological effects on people, and it can be used to help treat a variety of conditions as well as to promote general health.

Applying Color Therapy

Color therapy, also known as Chromatherapy, is a Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) technique. A trained color therapist is able to use color and light to balance energy wherever our bodies are lacking – whether physical, emotional, mental or spiritual.

Chromotherapists state that colors bring about emotional reactions in people. A standard method of diagnosis is the use of Luscher’s color test, developed in the early 1900s by Dr. Max Luscher. The Luscher-Color-Diagnostic® measures a person’s psychophysical state, and their ability to withstand stress, to perform, and to communicate. The diagnostic is used to uncover the cause of psychological stress, which can lead to physical symptoms.

Findings suggest that color and light have been utilized by healers since the beginning of recorded time. Color therapy possibly has roots in Ayurveda, an ancient form of Indian medicine practiced for thousands of years. Other historic roots are linked to ancient Egyptian culture and Chinese healing. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), for example, each organ is associated with a specific color. Ancient Egyptians built solariums (sun rooms) that could be fitted with colored panes of glass. The sun would shine through and flood the patient with color.

When administering color therapy, color and light is applied to specific areas of the body. Because colors are associated with both positive and negative effects in color therapy, specific colors and accurate amounts of the color are deemed to be essential in the healing process. Just as the proper color in the correct area can promote healing, too much color or colors applied erroneously in the wrong places may facilitate adverse health effects.

Common tools used in Chromotherapy include candles, wands, prisms, colored fabric, gemstones, bath treatments, colored glass or lenses, and colored lights. Therapeutic color can be administered in several ways, but it is often done in combination with aromatherapy and/or hydrotherapy in an attempt to heighten the effects of treatment.

Alternative medicine practitioners who use chromotherapy often relate the seven colors of the color spectrum to specific body areas known as chakras. As with yoga, the chakras are specific spiritual energy centers at different spots on the human body. The therapeutic actions of the colors correspond to the chakra they represent.

A Brief Overview of Colors and Chakras

Red – First Chakra: base of spine
Red is the color of life, the glowing sun and fire. It is believed to increase the pulse, raise blood pressure and increase the rate of breathing. It is also the color of passion and desire. Red would be applied to support circulatory functions and has been used for asthma, anemia, throat/larynx diseases and chronic cough. An excessive amount of red in someone could represent domination, cruelty, anger and vulgarity.

Orange – Second Chakra: pelvic area
Orange is a mixture of red and yellow, and stands for kind- and warm-heartedness. It symbolizes the rising sun, and improves mood and alertness. Chromotherapy using orange has achieved astounding results when treating mental illness, depression and pessimism. It can be used for anorexia, digestive disorders, loss of appetite, anemia, and arteriosclerosis. An excess of orange could signal fatigue, confusion and pessimism.

Yellow – Third Chakra: solar plexus (just above belly button)
The sun and horizon are symbolized by yellow, the brightest color used in chromotherapy. Yellow has been used to strengthen the nervous system, treat glandular diseases, hepatitis and lymphatic disorders and assist metabolism. Someone with an excess of yellow may experience malice or lack of concentration.

Green – Fourth Chakra: heart
In the middle of the color spectrum lies green, a color associated with harmony. Green will not make one quiet, rather provide a neutral, positive calming effect. It is the color of possession and the will to possess, but is also considered the color of concentration. Green has been used in the treatment of whooping cough, joint inflammation, bronchial infections, swelling, and detoxification. An excess of green may result in insecurity, jealousy or lethargy. Pink is also associated with the Fourth Chakra, as a secondary color to green.

Blue – Fifth Chakra: throat
The color of infinity and peace, blue promotes relaxation and calm. Blue is used to put our bodies and minds in a state of softness, repose and peace. Blue exhibits tranquilizing qualities often used to relieve headaches and migraines, colds, stress, nervous tension, rheumatism, stomach pains, muscle cramps and liver disorders. Blue is thought to have a positive effect on all kinds of pain. In excess, blue creates doubt, apathy, distrust and melancholy.

Indigo – Sixth Chakra: lower part of forehead
Indigo is a cooling color good for intuition and perception. In chromotherapy, it is used to treat mental problems, and conditions involving the eyes, ears and nose, as well as in treating addiction. Indigo has a calming, sedative effect. Some practitioners use the color to help control bleeding and abscesses. Violet may also be associated with this chakra, depending on the chromotherapist.

Violet – Seventh Chakra: top of the head
Violet is considered the color of emotions, and is used to calm the nervous system, soothe organs and relax muscles. Violet has meditative qualities and is often used to treat conditions of the lymphatic system and spleen, as well as urinary disorders and psychosis. Excessive violet may result in expressions of domination or fanaticism. White or magenta is sometimes also associated with the Seventh Chakra, depending on the practitioner.

Chromotherapy has been practiced throughout the world for centuries, and remains one of the most popular CAM therapies available.

Depression and Color

If you begin color therapy for depression, you will probably primarily be exposed to blue light. According to Vanderbilt University's Health Psychology page, the success of blue light in treating depression was first acknowledged by the scientific community in 1990 at the annual conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

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