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J Psychiatry Neurosci. 1995 May;20(3):226-32.

The effect of adjunctive light therapy on ameliorating breakthrough depressive symptoms in adolescent-onset bipolar disorder.

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Division of Adolescent Psychiatry, Sunnybrook Health Science Centre, University of Toronto Clinic, Ontario, Canada.


Seven adolescents or young adults (aged 16 to 22 years) who met DSM-III-R criteria for bipolar disorder were treated for persistent depressive symptoms (greater than three weeks) with adjunctive light therapy (10,000 lux given twice per day). Patients were evaluated using the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and Symptoms Check List (SCL-58). Three patients showed a marked response of greater than 70% decrease of their baseline score. Two patients had a moderate decrease (40% to 74%) and two patients obtained mild to no response. There were no reported side-effects. Paired t-tests done on pre- and post-BDI scores (pre mean = 21.2 sd +/- 10.0; post mean = 11.1, sd +/- 8.8; paired t = 4.31; p > 0.0051) and pre- and post-SCL-58 scores above baseline of 58 (pre mean = 57.4, sd +/- 24.4; post mean = 28.7, sd +/- 18.6; paired t = 5.50; p > 0.0015) showed significant improvement. These preliminary results indicate that some bipolar adolescents with breakthrough depressive symptoms could benefit from light therapy as an adjunct to their continued thymoleptic treatment.

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