Fluorescent Lights and Anxiety

by Jason on May 21, 2009

Have you ever experienced feeling an overwhelming wave of anxiety rapidly wash over you once you have stepped inside a pharmacy, at work or a convenience store? If yes, this is probably because pharmacies and convenience stores are lit with harsh, fluorescent lighting.

You might be wondering now what the relationship is between fluorescent lights and anxiety. If you have experienced the beginnings of an anxiety attack just by being near a fluorescent light or being inside a room lit with them, you are not alone.

Many people who suffer from anxiety attacks feel the same way too.

In one particular survey, 53% of those who suffered from anxiety felt that their attacks got worse when they saw fluorescent lights.

The common complaints when it comes to being near fluorescent lighting from anxiety sufferers include hearing a buzzing sound, having the sudden urge to pee, feelings of being anxious or disconnected and difficulty in focusing or concentrating on things.

Some sufferers of anxiety attacks may be able to tolerate being in rooms lit with fluorescent lights for up to an hour or several hours.

Others who suffer from anxiety attacks find the experience more disconcerting. Some complain of wanting to cry or wanting to curl up into a tight ball whenever they are in a room lit by fluorescent lights even when they have been exposed to the lights only for a few minutes.

Several studies have shown that fluorescent lighting is related to anxiety, hyperactivity, attention problems, bodily stress aggressive behavior and tooth decay in children. Researchers have also found that too much of fluorescent lighting can cause annoyance which can lead to medical stress. Fluorescent lights have also been linked to worsened cases of agoraphobia or the fear of wide, open spaces.

If you have a job that keeps you indoors for most of the day, you might end each day feeling tired and burnt out. This may prove dangerous for you, especially if you are already prone to depression and anxiety.

Being under the glow of fluorescent light all day cannot make up for your need of the sun’s beneficial rays and may make your case of anxiety worse.

Doctors are advising those who are stay indoors all day, especially those who are prone to depression and anxiety, to get more sun.

If you suffer from increased anxiety when in a room with fluorescent lights, you might consider going for full-spectrum lights, which have been shown to improve the mental activity and moods of people who were suffering from depression and anxiety.

I like to make sure I get ouside for at least 15 minutes to half an hours during my lunch break at work just to take a little mental vacation from the fluorescent lights. I highly recommend you do the same. You’ll feel way better for it.

If you’d like to learn how to stop the “little things” like annoying fluorescent ligting from getting to you, you should check out the strategies taught in the Linden Method. The program is great for teaching you how to turn off these stress triggers like a light switch. You can learn more here.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

sam August 16, 2010 at 3:15 pm

i’m stuck in an office right now having anxiety and a headache. just started a new job. I’m certain it’s the fluorescent lighting.

Barri-Lea October 5, 2010 at 1:01 pm

I knew in my heart that these lights were affecting me. Noow I know. How does one hold a job in a office or syore that has these ?

Sought November 22, 2010 at 9:49 pm

I’m a shy guy and I have started uni and we have some lectures in a very large room with annoying white lights and many people there (around 40 or 60). When I was in that room at daytime I did not care but now that I have lectures there at 16:00 (dark outside) I feel more sensitive to the white lights along with the presence of that amount of people. My face becomes into a sad-like face and my eyes get wet, I don’t breath faster or something like that but it’s not a good time.

nervous in boston March 15, 2011 at 2:12 pm

I’m glad I’m not alone. I have anxiety/panic disorder anyway, but when I got into a supermarket, I just can’t stay for more than a few minutes. Especially in the big ones. I get very disoriented, and I start feeling dizzy and weird. it makes me, well….panicky. It’s a real problem in any large store with this kind of lighting. I try to keep in mind that it’s not in my head – it’s a physical response to a lighting type that does not agree with me. Like an allergy. Hard to explain to non-sufferers though, why I can’t shop in the mega markets.

Flourescent March 23, 2011 at 5:51 pm

Yes these lights are a killer for me. I feel as though I am a space cadet when I am under these lights. Then the anxiety kicks in and it makes it worse 10 fold. The best medicine is to just accept the fact you are feeling the way you are. Eventually your body will adjust. It might take weeks, or even months for this to occur. I still have full blown symptoms after 5 months, but there is a mix of my good days as well. It is great to see that I am making progress. There is hope for all you sufferers out there. You just have to learn to accept and get the job done.

Tika May 29, 2011 at 11:28 am

So relieved to find this article. I can NOT stand fluorescent lights and yes they do trigger my attacks!! 🙁 I thought I was going crazy and of course people just didn’t understand why I wore my sunglasses all the time, even at work. However, if you have true anxiety attacks, you will do anything to NOT to have them again!!! So I do what makes me comfortable and who cares what others really think. I also have really bad astigmatism and I have often wondered if the two correlate to one another. Who knows?!? For any of those that have the same problem, you’re not alone. Best wishes to you all!

Ana October 20, 2011 at 2:54 pm

I also have this problem with fluorescent lights and I suffer anxiety attacks.
Like “nervous in boston” said, I cannot go shopping to a mega market full of those lights, or going to a pharmacy… When I have to go to a mega market, I wear in there some sunglasses to avoid the lights, although when I am there I get very nervous as soon as I step inside the place.
I’m under medication for about 14 years, sometimes I get better and I’m able to reduce the medication and sometime I get worse and I have to raise it.
I don’t believe that I’ll be OK some day in the future 🙁

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