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Medicineworld.org: Bright light therapy eases bipolar depression

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Bright light therapy eases bipolar depression




Bright light treatment can ease bipolar depression in some patients, as per a research studyreported in the journal Bipolar Disorders. Scientists from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicines Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic studied nine women with bipolar disorder to examine the effects of light treatment in the morning or at midday on mood symptoms.

There are limited effective therapys for the depressive phase of bipolar disorder, said Dorothy Sit, M.D., assistant professor of psychiatry and the studys first author. While there are therapys that are effective for mania, the major problem is the depression, which can linger so long that it never really goes away.



Bright light therapy eases bipolar depression

In this study, women with bipolar depression were given light boxes and instructed on how to use them at home. The women used the light boxes daily for two-week stretches of 15, 30 and 45 minutes. Some patients responded extremely well to the light treatment, and their symptoms of depression disappeared. The responders to light treatment stayed on the light treatment for an additional three or four months. Four patients received morning light, and five used their light boxes at midday. Participants also continued to take their prescribed medications throughout the study period.

Three of the women who received morning light initially developed what we call a mixed state, with symptoms of depression and mania that occur all at once racing thoughts, irritability, sleeplessness, anxiety and low mood, said Dr. Sit. But when another group began with midday light treatment, we found a much more stable response.

Of the nine women treated, six achieved some degree of response, with several reaching full recovery from depressive symptoms. While most attained their best recovery with midday light, a few responded more fully to a final adjustment to morning light. People with bipolar disorder are exquisitely sensitive to morning light, so this profound effect of morning therapy leading to mixed states is very informative and forces us to ask more questions, said Dr. Sit. Did we introduce light too early and disrupt circadian rhythms and sleep patterns?

People with bipolar disorder are known to be sensitive to changes in outdoor ambient light and to seasonal changes. Scientists are asking whether the risk of suicide in patients with bipolar disorder could be associated with changes in light exposure.

In our study, 44 percent of patients were full responders, and 22 percent were partial responders, Dr. Sit and her colleagues write. Light treatment, therefore, is an attractive and possibly effective augmentation strategy to improve the likelihood of full-treatment response.

Optimal response was observed with midday light treatment for 45 or 60 minutes daily, noted Dr. Sit.


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Did you know?
Bright light treatment can ease bipolar depression in some patients, as per a research studyreported in the journal Bipolar Disorders. Scientists from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicines Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic studied nine women with bipolar disorder to examine the effects of light treatment in the morning or at midday on mood symptoms.

Medicineworld.org: Bright light therapy eases bipolar depression

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