Luminette Light Therapy Glasses

Weak circadian rhythms, seasonal mood symptoms, and disrupted sleep and daytime fatigue are common problems for people with depression and bipolar, the Luminette light therapy glasses may be a key part of a practical strategy to counteract these problems. Light therapy (very bright light, usually in the morning) has been shown to improve seasonal and non-seasonal depression in people with …

Bipolar Depression Light Therapy

Bipolar Depression Light Therapy

The news that bipolar depression light therapy may be effective is good news and follows a series of studies this past year highlighting the importance of treatments that affect circadian rhythms by manipulating light and dark in treating mood disorders. Bipolar depression is one of the hardest conditions to treat effectively. Antidepressant medications may have significant side effects, including inducing …

An Epidemic of Fatigue

Several of my patients reported odd changes in their sleep and  their energy level this past week, as though there was an epidemic of fatigue going around. They noted that their sleep was a bit more disrupted and that they didn’t feel as rested in the morning and, for the first time in months, they began taking afternoon naps. Going …

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 is blue light, which is …

Bright Light 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 moderate severity. 122 patients were …

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 that many people in our …

Chronotherapy for Depression

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, a harder sell to patients) …

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 person. Which is true now, …

Seasonal Affective Disorder – Fall Reminder

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 that can be the precursor …

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 depression. In fact, regular exposure …

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,” I hear the other person …

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 a “hibernating” mode that makes …

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 winter. The first thing is …

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 warmer and we will have …

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 impairs learning through changes light …

Traveling

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 good medical care, it’s a …

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 animals trying to live in …