An Open Trial of Light Therapy for Women With Seasonal Affective Disorder and Comorbid Bulimia Nervosa

Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.
The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 5.5). 03/2001; 62(3):164-8. DOI: 10.4088/JCP.v62n0305
Source: PubMed


Many patients with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) have dysfunctional eating behaviors. Conversely, many women with bulimia nervosa have marked winter worsening of mood and bulimic symptoms. Controlled studies of light therapy in SAD and in bulimia nervosa have shown beneficial effects on mood and binge/purge symptoms. We explored the clinical use of light therapy in women with SAD who also had comorbid bulimia nervosa.
Twenty-two female patients diagnosed using DSM-IV criteria with both bulimia nervosa and major depressive disorder with a seasonal (winter) pattern were treated with an open design, 4-week trial of light therapy (10,000 lux fluorescent light box with an ultraviolet filter, 30 to 60 minutes per day in the early morning). Patients were assessed before and after treatment with depression scales and with binge/purge diaries.
Light therapy resulted in significant improvement in mood, with a mean 56% reduction in 29-item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression scores following treatment (p < .001). The frequency of binges and purges per week also significantly decreased (p < .001) from baseline by a mean of 46% and 36%, respectively. Two (9%) of 22 patients became abstinent of binge/ purge episodes, compared with 10 (45%) of 22 patients who met criteria for remission of depressive symptoms. The light therapy was well tolerated by patients.
These results suggest that therapeutic effects of light therapy on mood and bulimic symptoms in patients with SAD and comorbid bulimia nervosa are sustained over at least 4 weeks. However, the low abstinence rate in bulimic symptoms indicates that light therapy may be most effectively used as an adjunctive treatment to medications and/or psychotherapy for bulimia nervosa.

4 Reads
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This review summarizes the current literature on the comorbidity of psychiatric disorders with anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder. The elevated prevalence of depres-sion, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, substance abuse, childhood sexual abuse, and personality disorders will be reviewed. In addition, the relationship of eating disorders to body dysmorphic disorder, the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and diabetes will be discussed.
    Archives of Women s Mental Health 01/2002; 4(3):67-78. DOI:10.1007/s007370200002 · 2.16 Impact Factor
  • Source
    CNS spectrums 09/2005; 10(8):605. · 2.71 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Bright light therapy for seasonal affective disorder (SAD) has been investigated and applied for over 20 years. Physicians and clinicians are increasingly confident that bright light therapy is a potent, specifically active, nonpharmaceutical treatment modality. Indeed, the domain of light treatment is moving beyond SAD, to nonseasonal depression (unipolar and bipolar), seasonal flare-ups of bulimia nervosa, circadian sleep phase disorders, and more. Light therapy is simple to deliver to outpatients and inpatients alike, although the optimum dosing of light and treatment time of day requires individual adjustment. The side-effect profile is favorable in comparison with medications, although the clinician must remain vigilant about emergent hypomania and autonomic hyperactivation, especially during the first few days of treatment. Importantly, light therapy provides a compatible adjunct to antidepressant medication, which can result in accelerated improvement and fewer residual symptoms.
    CNS spectrums 09/2005; 10(8):647-63; quiz 672. · 2.71 Impact Factor
Show more