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Psychiatry Res. 1999 Jun 30;86(3):185-92.

A controlled study of light therapy in women with late luteal phase dysphoric disorder.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver Hospital and Health Sciences Centre, Canada.


Previous studies suggest that light therapy, as used to treat seasonal affective disorder, may be beneficial for pre-menstrual depressive disorders. We conducted a six-menstrual cycle randomized, double-blind, counter-balanced, crossover study of dim vs. bright light therapy in women with late luteal phase dysphoric disorder (LLPDD). Fourteen women who met DSM-III-R criteria for LLPDD completed two menstrual cycles of prospective baseline monitoring of pre-menstrual symptoms, followed by two cycles of each treatment. During the 2-week luteal phase of each treatment cycle, patients were randomized to receive 30 min of evening light therapy using: (1) 10000 lx cool-white fluorescent light (active condition); or (2) 500 lx red fluorescent light (placebo condition), administered by a light box at their homes. After two menstrual cycles of treatment, patients were immediately crossed over to the other condition for another two cycles. Outcome measures were assessed at the mid-follicular and luteal phases of each cycle. Results showed that the active bright white light condition significantly reduced depression and pre-menstrual tension scores during the symptomatic luteal phase, compared to baseline, while the placebo dim red light condition did not. These results suggest that bright light therapy is an effective treatment for LLPDD.

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