Light Deprivation to Decrease Mania in Bipolar Disorder


Bright light therapy has been used for years to treat seasonal affective disorder and depressed patients in general. Patients sit in front of a special lamp which has similar effects on their circadian rhythms or wake cycle as the sun would, thus increasing their energy and lifting their moods. I had great success with my light therapy box during a particularly trying depressive episode several years ago.

Researchers are now speculating that light DEPRIVATION therapy, the opposite of bright light therapy, may be a viable treatment for bipolar mania. Light deprivation therapy can be achieved by limiting exposure to sunlight or by wearing specialized glasses.

There are only a few studies testing this theory, however, and while results of these studies are positive, sample sizes are too small to be generalized. Hopefully, they will continue to look into this further because if it works, it would be a safe, non-invasive option for treating bipolar mania.


5 thoughts on “Light Deprivation to Decrease Mania in Bipolar Disorder

  1. Light therapy was suggested to me by an intern at the county mental clinic a few years back. After speaking with me for about 15 minutes, she determined I had SAD and gave me a diagram of how to set up a light box.

    Sometimes I think I should have taken her advice. Interesting, though, the study shows it helps people with mania. I thought it would have the opposite effect.


    • Bright light therapy WOULD make people with mania more manic. The research is looking at how light DEPRIVATION, the opposite of bright light therapy, might be beneficial for those in a manic phase. I wasn’t very clear about that in my post. Going to revise now. Thanks for the feedback! 🙂


  2. I am so intrigued by this. At one point in time I thought I had SAD years ago as my moods seemed to follow the seasons and my depression would flare up horribly in the colder months but it turns out I have bipolar disorder (diagnosed this summer). I really am glad I came across this. Nice post!


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