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Review ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Psychiatry | doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00085

Bright light as a personalized precision treatment of mood disorders

  • 1Paris Diderot University, France

Background: The use of light for its antidepressant action dates back to the beginnings of civilization. Three decades ago, the use of bright-light therapy (BLT) for treating Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) was officially proposed. Since then, a growing scientific literature reports its antidepressant efficacy in both unipolar and bipolar disorders (BD), with or without seasonal patterns. This review aims to examine the management of BLT as a personalized and precision treatment in SAD, unipolar and BD.
Methods: We conducted a narrative review using Medline and Google Scholar databases up to June 2018.
Results: BLT has physiological effects by resynchronizing the biological clock (circadian system), enhancing alertness, increasing sleep pressure (homeostatic system), and acting on serotonin and other monoaminergic pathways. Effects of BLT on mood depend on several factors such as light intensity, wavelength spectrum, illumination duration, time of the day, and individual circadian rhythms. A growing body of evidence has been generated over the last decade about BLT evolving as an effective depression treatment not only to be used in SAD, but also in non-seasonal depression, with efficiency comparable to fluoxetine, and possibly more robust in patients with BD. The antidepressant action of BLT is fast (within 1-week) and safe, with the need in BD to protect against manic switch with mood stabilizers. Side effects might be nausea, diarrhea, headache, and eye irritation and are generally mild and rare. This good safety profile may be of particular interest, especially in women during the perinatal period or for the elderly. The management of BLT needs to be clarified across mood disorders and future studies are expected to compare different dose-titration protocols, to validate its use as a maintenance treatment, and also to identify predictive biomarkers of response and tolerability. We propose clinical guidelines for BLT use in SAD, non-seasonal depression, and BD.
Conclusions: BLT is an efficient antidepressant strategy in mono- or adjunct-therapy, that should be personalized according the unipolar or bipolar subtype, the presence or absence of seasonal patterns, and also regarding its efficacy and tolerability.

Keywords: Bright Light Therapy (BLT), Circadian rhythms and sleep, Sleep, Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), Bipolar disorder (BD), Non-seasonal depression

Received: 04 Jul 2018; Accepted: 06 Feb 2019.

Edited by:

Brisa S. Fernandes, MD, PhD, University of Toronto, Canada

Reviewed by:

Ju Wang, Tianjin Medical University, China
Jeffrey J. Rakofsky, Emory University, United States  

Copyright: © 2019 Maruani and Geoffroy. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Pierre A. Geoffroy, Paris Diderot University, Paris, 75205 CEDEX 13, France, pierre.a.geoffroy@gmail.com