casedog
A:

Hi!

This is a really interesting question. I am familiar with light therapy for seasonal affective depression (SAD) and I have a client who uses light therapy during the winter months and has really benefited from it. I have heard that light therapy has been used in treating patients who are depressed but don't have seasonal affective disorder. One of the problems with any new treatment is that, because it is new, there isn't enough research to know how affective it is, and whether it can have harmful effects, and how it stands up against other more established treatments.

Depression affects sleep patterns, what scientists refer to as disruptions in circadian rhythm. It is my understanding that bright light can impact circadian rhythm, and elevate mood. But again, the problem has been lack of research. As a result, the question of "voodoo, pseudoscience, or legitimate," as you said so well, has not been answered. But that may be changing.

Here is a link to a recent article published in the New York Times that talks about a recent study that showed positive results for light therapy:

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/06/ligh...

I suspect that we will be hearing a lot more about light therapy, and that a lot more research will be conducted regarding its potential effectiveness.

I am always interested in knowing more about potential new treatments for depression, always optimistic that we will learn about new and innovative ways to unlock this mystery and help more people to feel better. I hope that members who have experienced light therapy will check in and share their experiences.

And thank you for asking the question!

Gary

Answered By Answered by Dr GaryCA
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PrometheusFire
PrometheusFire April 23, 2012 at 5:02 pm   

I've heard it can also be very effective for treating insomnia.

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