‘Light ther­apy’ may of­fer re­lief to pa­tients with bipo­lar dis­or­der

Iran Daily - - Health -

Peo­ple af­flicted with bipo­lar dis­or­der may find some re­lief from de­pres­sion with daily doses of light ther­apy, new re­search sug­gested.

With light ther­apy, peo­ple spend time sit­ting in close prox­im­ity to a light-emit­ting box — in this case, bright white light — with ex­po­sures in­creas­ing from 15 min­utes per day to a full hour over a pe­riod of weeks, ac­cord­ing to UPI.

The study found that within a month the ther­apy helped treat de­pres­sion in peo­ple with bipo­lar dis­or­der.

Lead re­searcher Dr. Dorothy Sit, who is as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of psy­chi­a­try at North­west­ern Uni­ver­sity in Chicago, said, “Ef­fec­tive treat­ments for bipo­lar de­pres­sion are very lim­ited.

“This gives us a new treat­ment op­tion for bipo­lar pa­tients that we know gets us a ro­bust re­sponse within four to six weeks.”

Ac­cord­ing to the Brain and Be­hav­ior Re­search Foun­da­tion, bipo­lar dis­or­der is a brain and be­hav­ior dis­or­der char­ac­ter­ized by se­vere shifts in a per­son’s mood and en­ergy, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult for the per­son to func­tion.

Over 5.7 mil­lion Amer­i­cans are thought to have the dis­or­der, which often in­volves de­pres­sive episodes.

As Sit’s team noted, prior re­search had shown that morn­ing light ther­apy re­duces symp­toms of de­pres­sion in peo­ple with sea­sonal af­fec­tive dis­or­der, or SAD, a con­di­tion where win­ter’s re­duced light spurs de­pres­sion.

How­ever, it’s also been noted that light ther­apy can some­times cause side ef­fects, such as ma­nia, in peo­ple with bipo­lar dis­or­der.

Still, the North­west­ern team won­dered if the treat­ment might not have a role for bipo­lar pa­tients with at least moder­ate de­pres­sion who were also tak­ing a mood sta­bi­lizer drug.

In the study, 46 pa­tients re­ceived ei­ther a 7,000 lux bright white light or a 50 lux light that acted as the ‘placebo arm’ of the trial.

The study par­tic­i­pants were told to place the light box about one foot from their face for 15 min­utes be­tween noon and 2:30 p.m. each day at the start of the study.

Over six weeks, the pa­tients in­creased their light ther­apy ‘doses’ in 15-minute in­cre­ments un­til they reached a dose of 60 min­utes per day — or had a sig­nif­i­cant change in their mood.

Com­pared with peo­ple in the placebo group, those in the treat­ment group were more likely to have sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ments, Sit’s team said.

More than 68 per­cent of pa­tients in the treat­ment group achieved a nor­mal mood ver­sus 22 per­cent of those in the placebo group, the find­ings showed.

Pa­tients in the treat­ment group also had a much lower av­er­age de­pres­sion score than those in the placebo group, and sig­nif­i­cantly higher func­tion­ing, mean­ing they could re­turn to work or com­plete house­hold tasks they hadn’t been able to fin­ish be­fore treat­ment.

Sig­nif­i­cantly, none of the pa­tients ex­pe­ri­enced ma­nia or hy­po­ma­nia, a con­di­tion that in­cludes a pe­riod of ela­tion, eu­pho­ria, ir­ri­tabil­ity, ag­i­ta­tion, rapid speech, rac­ing thoughts, a lack of fo­cus and risk-tak­ing be­hav­iors.

Sit said, “As clin­i­cians, we need to find treat­ments that avoid these side ef­fects and al­low for a nice, sta­ble re­sponse. “Treat­ment with bright light at mid­day can pro­vide this.” Two psy­chi­a­trists agreed that the ther­apy may have merit for pa­tients, who often have few op­tions.

Dr. Seth Man­del, who di­rects psy­chi­a­try at North­well Health’s Hunt­ing­ton Hospi­tal in Hunt­ing­ton, NY, said, “No stan­dard an­tide­pres­sants are ap­proved for treat­ment of bipo­lar de­pres­sion.

“An­tipsy­chotics that are ap­proved for bipo­lar dis­or­der often come with side ef­fects that cause many pa­tients to stop us­ing them.

“Light ther­apy of­fers us another op­tion, one that cer­tainly ap­pears to do no harm.

“Pa­tients with more se­vere symp­toms weren’t in­cluded in the Chicago study.”

He also be­lieves many peo­ple won’t be able to ad­here to the hour­long, daily dosage re­quired.

Dr. Ami Baxi is a psy­chi­a­trist who di­rects adult in­pa­tient ser­vices at Lenox Hill Hospi­tal in New York City.

She agreed that light ther­apy may be a wel­come ad­di­tion to our lim­ited treat­ment op­tions for bipo­lar de­pres­sion.

The study was funded by the US Na­tional In­sti­tute of Men­tal Health and pub­lished in the Amer­i­can Jour­nal of Psy­chi­a­try.

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UPI

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