Tag Archive: light

Jan 24

Darkness Treats Mania?

Bright light is one of the most rapidly effective treatments for depression and may be helpful for depression even in people without a clear seasonal pattern (winter depression). A recent study suggests that it may also be true that darkness treats mania. The portion of the light spectrum that affects circadian rhythms the most strongly …

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Nov 23

Bright Light for Non-Seasonal Depression

Light Therapy vs Fluoxetine for Non-Seasonal Depression

Bright light may work for non-seasonal depression. This is the conclusion of a study published in the prestigious psychiatric journal JAMA Psychiatry. Researchers at the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia in Canada conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo- and sham-controlled, 8-week trial in adults (aged 19-60 years) with major depression of at least …

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Oct 18

Sleep Deprivation in Western Society

Sleep Deprivation in Western Society

In February the National Sleep Foundation announced the publication of new guidelines for the amount of sleep that we should be getting based on a rigorous review of the literature. The guidelines suggested that adults should be getting between seven and nine hours of sleep. The results were widely distributed and commented on. It was noted …

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Mar 16

Chronotherapy for Depression

Chronotherapy for Depression results

Chronotherapy for depression was recently shown to be effective in a fairly large and well designed study from New Zealand. What is chronotherapy? As discussed in the article, which appeared in Acta Scandanavica Psychiatrica, chronotherapy involves some combination of three separate sleep and wakefulness related interventions: Wake therapy. Wake therapy (previously known as “sleep deprivation” therapy, …

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Nov 30

Circadian Rhythm Self Assessment

circadian rhythm self assessment

I ran across a wonderful tool for circadian rhythm self assessment on the website of the Center for Environmental Therapeutics. The Center is devoted to providing the public and clinicians with high-quality information about natural interventions for people with stress, anxiety, and depression. I took the online test and it said I was definitely a morning …

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Sep 19

Seasonal Affective Disorder – Fall Reminder

Seasonal Affective Disorder Fall Warning

Seasonal affective disorder affects many of us to some degree. Once again, it is nearing the Autumnal Equinox. This is the so-called “beginning of fall.” And for many people, it is around this time that they notice the shift from summer towards fall and winter and begin to experience a sense of fatigue or lethargy …

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Sep 04

The Power of Daily Rituals: A Morning Walk

Morning Walk - The Daily Routine

What is the power of a morning walk? Even such a simple daily ritual can have profound effects on mood. After two years working with a young woman who is now heading off to graduate school and bright future, we were reflecting on lessons learned. “I can be a bit dense about cause and effect. …

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Jul 12

Let There Be Light

Those who experience depression regularly at certain times of the year (in San Francisco, a winter depression usually begins in late October or early November and, depending on where you live, there may be a summer depression linked to heavy fog in July and August) should definitely know about the importance of light exposure in treating …

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Mar 31

How Light Affects the Brain

Two recent articles that I reviewed highlight the accumulating evidence that something as simple as sunlight has profound impacts on brain biology. When I suggest to people that they pay attention to daily light exposure and, particularly, to getting bright light for 45 minutes every morning, I am often looked at with skepticism. “Sure doc,” …

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Dec 26

Using a Therapy Light

Christmas vacation is ending, It has been wonderful to spend some relaxing time with family, getting up later in the day, lounging around and playing games, reading, or watching TV… and eating too much good food. Now the challenge is getting back to a more productive schedule. For many of us, our bodies are in …

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Aug 22

Get Ready for Fall

As August winds itself up, it is time to start thinking about the fall and then winter coming up. A little bit like the squirrels, who are already putting away food for the winter, it may make sense to make sure that you have what you need to have a happy and energetic fall and …

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Aug 12

Mood and the Brain’s Clock

As we slowly move from summer to fall, it may be timely that the issue of Biological Psychiatry that arrived in the mail today is devoted to how the brain’s clock affects mood. It points to growing evidence that part of what drives mood cycles are disruptions in the brain’s daily (circadian) rhythms. It appears …

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Dec 22

Happy Winter Solstice

For those of us in the northern hemisphere this is a day well worth celebrating. Today marks the shortest day of the year. Or, to put it another way, from here until summer every day will be a little bit longer, there will be a little bit more light, and eventually the days will get …

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Dec 04

How Could Light Help?


There has been considerable skepticism about the value of light therapy for people with seasonal depression, despite a very compelling research literature. Perhaps this might, in part, be because the way that light might affect mood has not been clear. In a recently published animal study, change in light exposure increases stress hormones, depresses mood, and …

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Nov 27


Traveling can be exciting, but it can also be very stressful. It is particularly important for people living with moods to do prepare for travel before they leave. A surprisingly high percentage of serious mood catastrophes, in our experience, happen during trips. And they are almost always preventable. First, if your traveling to some place without …

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Oct 31

Time Change: Fall Back

The time change in the United States is the classic “time of challenge and time of opportunity.” First, the challenge – If you wanted to do something to make America more depressed you would be hard pressed to come up with a better intervention. Shift everyone’s schedule so that they wake up an hour later …

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Oct 13

Bay Area Blues

If you live in the bay area you probably noticed that this past week you felt a little less energetic. It was the first cold and rainy week of the season, and the days have been getting noticeably shorter (maybe you used to wake up after dawn and now it is dark). We are naturally seasonal …

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Sep 08

Night Shift

A young ER doctor came in to see us because he works the night shift, and found that he was having trouble getting enough good quality sleep, and also being alert enough during his shifts. He worked four or five night shifts in a row and then he had several days off. And his goal …

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Aug 22

The End of Summer

Every year we notice two weeks that seem to affect a number of folks who have had seasonal depressions. The first period is the “End of Summer” – a foreshadowing of the coming fall that happens in late August or early September (depending on the weather, we guess). The second period is the “Beginning of …

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Jul 29

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is one of the fat soluble vitamins, and along with other fat soluble vitamins, it is possible to take too little, but it is also possible to take too much. And taking too much can have negative health effects, just as taking too little can. For many of us we get enough vitamin …

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