Depression in female bipolar patients successfully treated with light therapy
Light therapy has been successfully used to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD for short). However, there have been limited studies regarding the affects of light therapy on bipolar patients that have depression. According to Dorothy Sitt, M.D., of the University of Pittsburgh, light-box therapy delivered at midday provided complete relief of depressive symptoms in 4 out of 9 female patients in the study, with partial relief being reported in 2 others. Researches reported in the December issue of Bipolar Disorders that therapy worked best between the hours of noon and 2 p.m. According to the researchers, “We found the optimal response was at 7,000 lux midday light for 45 or 60 minutes.” The following is an excerpt of an article from Medpage Today that reviews the study:
Among nonresponders to the midday treatment, one had a full response when switched to a morning schedule, they said. Another had partial symptom relief with morning treatment.
Light therapy is used frequently in patients with seasonal affective disorder, and has been shown to be beneficial in some patients with nonseasonal unipolar depression as well. But it has not been well studied in bipolar depression, Dr. Sit said.
Patients were included in the current study if they had a diagnosis of type I or II bipolar disorder without a seasonal pattern and persistent depressive symptoms that had not responded adequately to other treatments. Those with other psychiatric or physical disorders, including recent drug abuse, were excluded. The women took antimanic drugs beginning four weeks before starting light therapy and continuing through the study period.
Treatment response was defined as improvement of at least 50% from baseline in scores on the Structured Interview Guide for the Hamilton Depression Scale with Atypical Depression Supplement.