Terman M, Terman JS. Light therapy for seasonal and nonseasonal depression: efficacy, protocol, safety, and side effects. CNS Spectr 10: 647-663; quiz 672

Clinical Chronobiology, New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, NY 10032, USA.
CNS spectrums (Impact Factor: 2.71). 09/2005; 10(8):647-63; quiz 672.
Source: PubMed


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.

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    • "Enfin, chez les patients avec un TB, il conviendra en première intention d'éviter les horaires trop matinaux pour prévenir le virage maniaque [35]. Les séances devront donc débuter à la mi-journée (vers midi), puis ces horaires pourront être plus tôt dans un second temps en cas d'inefficacité thérapeutique [31]. Quelle fréquence et quelle durée de traitement ? "
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    ABSTRACT: Introduction: Bipolar disorders (BD) are frequent mood disorders associated with a poor prognosis mainly due to a high relapse rate. Depressive relapses may follow a seasonal cyclicality, and bright-light therapy (BLT) has been established as the treatment of choice for seasonal affective disorder (SAD). The use of BLT for seasonal unipolar depression is well known, but the scientific literature is much poorer on the management of seasonal depressive episodes in BD. In addition, some specificities related to BD must be taken into account. Methods: We conducted a comprehensive review using Medline and Google Scholar databases up to August 2014 using the following keywords combination: "bipolar disorder" and "light therapy" or "phototherapy". Papers were included in the review if (a) they were published in an English or French-language peer-reviewed journal; (b) the study enrolled patients with BD and SAD; and (c) the diagnosis was made according to the DSM or ICD criteria. Results: BLT was considered among the first-line treatments for SAD with a size effect similar to antidepressants. Most of the studies did not distinguish between patients with unipolar and bipolar disorders. However, it has been demonstrated that the most significant risk of BLT in patients with BD is the mood shift. Thus, the most important therapeutic adaptation corresponds to the use of an effective mood stabilizer, as with any antidepressant. Another therapeutic adaptation in first intention is that the times of exposure to light should be shifted from morning to midday. This review also includes therapeutic guidelines regarding the management of BLT in seasonal bipolar depressive episodes. Discussion: There are very few specific data on seasonal bipolar depressive episodes. This literature review has highlighted that BLT should be handled as a regular antidepressant treatment in patients suffering from seasonal bipolar depressive episodes.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2015 · L Encéphale
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    • "Bright light therapy is a natural, simple form of treatment that has relatively low costs. Moreover, light therapy does not lead to residual effects and tolerance, which are often associated with medication use (e.g., [3] [4]), although light therapy also can have side effects such as headache, eye strain, autonomic hyperactivation, and can possibly induce hypomania [5]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Although bright light therapy seems a promising treatment for sleep problems, research shows inconclusive results. This meta-analysis is the first to systematically review the effect of light therapy on sleep problems in general and on specific types of sleep problems in particular (circadian rhythm sleep disorders, insomnia, sleep problems related to Alzheimer's disease and dementia). Fifty-three studies with a total of 1154 participants were included. Overall effects and effects on separate circadian and sleep outcomes were examined. We calculated Hedges' g effect sizes and we investigated the effects of twelve moderators (design-related, treatment-related, participant-related). Light therapy was found effective in the treatment of sleep problems in general (g = 0.39), and for circadian rhythm sleep disorders (g = 0.41), insomnia (g = 0.47), and sleep problems related to Alzheimer's disease/dementia (g = 0.30) specifically. For circadian rhythm sleep disorders, effects were smaller for randomised controlled trials. For insomnia, we found larger effects for studies using a higher light intensity, and for sleep problems related to Alzheimer's disease/dementia larger effects were found for studies with more female participants. There was indication of publication bias. To conclude, light therapy is effective for sleep problems in general, particularly for circadian outcomes and insomnia symptoms. However, most effect sizes are small to medium.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2015 · Sleep Medicine Reviews
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    • "Despite the established therapeutic potential of LT in seasonal depression and potential usefulness across a wide array of application, considerably less is known about the side effects and tolerability of LT. While a handful of landmark studies (e.g., [36-39]) have concluded that headache and eye/vision difficulties are the most common side effects of LT among mood-disordered patients, we can identify only one published study that has reported on the adverse effects of LT while employing a placebo control [40]. Interestingly, this study observed no significant differences in side effects between the LT and placebo groups, although it is worth noting that the dosage of light was considerably lower than that most commonly prescribed in contemporary practice. "
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    ABSTRACT: Despite the emergence of numerous clinical and non-clinical applications of bright light therapy (LT) in recent decades, the prevalence and severity of LT side effects have not yet been fully explicated. A few adverse LT effects-headache, eye strain, irritability, and nausea-have been consistently reported among depressed individuals and other psychiatric cohorts, but there exists little published evidence regarding LT side effects in non-clinical populations, who often undergo LT treatment of considerably briefer duration. Accordingly, in the present study we examined, in a randomized sample of healthy young adults, the acute side effects of exposure to a single 30-minute session of bright white light (10,000 lux) versus dim red light (< 500 lux). Across a broad range of potential side effects, repeated-measures analyses of variance revealed no significant group-by-time (Pre, Post) interactions. In other words, bright light exposure was not associated with a significantly higher incidence of any reported side effect than was the placebo control condition. Nevertheless, small but statistically significant increases in both eye strain and blurred vision were observed among both the LT and control groups. Overall, these results suggest that the relatively common occurrence of adverse side effects observed in the extant LT literature may not fully extend to non-clinical populations, especially for healthy young adults undergoing LT for a brief duration.
    Preview · Article · Sep 2013 · PLoS ONE
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