Light therapy can lower rate of switching from bipolar depression to mania, finds study

Light therapy can lower rate of switching from bipolar depression to mania, finds study

Bright light, especially that of the Sun, is important for the physical and mental well-being of an individual. In certain mental illnesses, such as depression, the lack of any form of light is found to aggravate the condition. Studies have proved that bright light therapy is helpful for treating depression. However, its role in the treatment of bipolar disorder was not clear. It was felt that while bright light therapy alleviated the symptoms of depression, it increased the risks of switching to the mania or hypomania phase, characterized by increased restlessness, euphoric feeling and risk-taking behavior.

However, a recent study, published in the journal Psychiatry Research, challenged the existing concerns. According to the study, the rate at which patients switch into the manic phase after treatment with light therapy for bipolar depression is lower compared to those who are treated through drugs or other chronotherapeutic techniques.

The study involved 799 patients with bipolar disorder, including those who were prescribed antidepressants. Only seven patients or 0.9 percent of the total number of respondents switched to mania, while 11 or 1.4 percent of the participants switched to the hypomania phase. The findings dispel all doubts about the efficacy of light therapy. The current study is expected to help psychiatrists find new means for the treatment of bipolar disorder.

Understanding bipolar disorder

An individual living with a bipolar disorder, also known as manic depressive disorder, can undergo recurring episodes of increased euphoria and depression. A highly complex mental health disorder, it is responsible for increased risks of mortality and morbidity. There are various types of bipolar disorder – Bipolar I Disorder, Bipolar II Disorder, Cyclothymic Disorder, Other Specified and Unspecified Bipolar, and Related Disorders. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), an estimated 4.4 percent of adult Americans experience bipolar disorder at some time in their lives.

Without proper care and attention, an individual grappling with bipolar condition finds it difficult to return to normal life. Some of the treatment modalities include medications and behavioral therapy. Bipolar disorder is characterized by mood swings, with changes in mood and energy level. The symptoms also range between mania or hypomania and depression. The mania episode is also characterized by:

  • Increase in promiscuous behavior or risk taking behavior like speeding
  • Increased touchiness resulting in feeling bad about things that would not have mattered ideally
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Increased garrulousness, and senseless or loose talk

At the other end is the depressive phase or the depressive episode characterized by:

  • Sadness and hopelessness
  • Suicidal inclinations
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Increased desire for solitude

Timely diagnosis is essential for quick recovery

Initially, people were reluctant to discuss their bipolar disorder due to stigma associated with the mental condition. But, of late, celebrities like Catherine Zeta Jones have opened up about their brush with bipolar, which has encouraged others suffering from the similar condition to seek professional treatment. With timely diagnosis, medication and treatment, people living with bipolar disorders can lead a healthy life. Unfortunately, as the symptoms of the disorder is similar to other mental conditions, it is often misdiagnosed. Therefore, while talking to the doctor, it is important to chart out the mood swings that the individual experiences — not just the lows, but also the highs.

Encourage your loved one with bipolar disorder to seek proper treatment at one of the reputed bipolar rehab centers in California. Sovereign Health, one of the leading bipolar treatment centers in California, offers evidence-based programs for the mental condition. Call at our 24/7 helpline number (866) 954-0529 or chat online for more information on our state-of-the-art treatment facilities for bipolar disorder.

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