Researchers deny risk of manic switching due to light therapy in bipolar disorder patients

Researchers deny risk of manic switching due to light therapy in bipolar disorder patients

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in the level of mood, energy and activity. Moreover, it affects the ability of a person to carry out his or her day-to-day tasks, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). About 3 percent of the American adults suffer from this disorder.

One feature that differentiates bipolar disorder from other psychiatric disorders is the fluctuation between extreme low or depressive mood to the totally opposite state of mania or hypomania, and vice versa. Antidepressants and other medications with mood-enhancing effects, used for treating psychiatric illnesses like depressive, anxiety or attention disorder, often lead to the “switching” of mood from depression to mania, particularly among adolescents and young adults. The entire switching of mood into mania, a mixed state and psychosis can prove risky and hazardous.

Switching from depression to mania/hypomania can happen suddenly over the course of the illness, but can also be triggered by stress, sleep deprivation or usual treatment for bipolar depression, such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), antidepressants, etc. A review of research studies, related to antidepressant-related mood fluctuation and shift in diagnosis from depression to bipolar disorder, suggests that mood switching occurs in approximately 6-8 percent of patients with unipolar major depressive disorder (MDD) taking antidepressants.

It further states that switching rates were 4.3 times greater among adolescents than adults. Based on the above repercussions, a range of health guidelines now recommend patients with bipolar disorder to avoid using antidepressants, particular due to the absence of any long-term benefit from their use.

Light therapy beneficial for bipolar disorder

According to a new study, published in the journal Psychiatry Research, the possibility of switch from bipolar depression to mania after light therapy is comparable to the risk of switching projected during placebo treatment for bipolar disorder. These findings confronts the general concerns among medical practitioners, scientists, etc. that light therapy leads to switching to mania.

The authors reviewed 41 studies, including 799 patients with bipolar disorder treated with antidepressant light therapy. Among all, around 0.9 percent of patients were reported to have switched into mania and another 1.4 percent switched into hypomania. The method of assessment of treatment-emergent symptoms increased the detection of switches into mania—0 percent when no method was reported, 0.8 percent with clinical mental state examination and 3 percent with rating scales. The rate of switch augmented to 18.8 percent when 16 patients with rapid-cycling bipolar disorder were taken into account.

It was noticed that switches occurred irrespective of treatment-related procedures, including light intensity, duration and circadian timing of administration. The reviewed literature indicates that the highest reported rate of switch from bipolar depression into mania due to light therapy is closer to the 4 percent switch rate predicted during the placebo treatment of bipolar disorder. This repudiates the specific concerns related to light therapy as an add-on treatment option for bipolar disorder.

A similar study showed statistically significant reductions in depression scores of the bright light therapy group compared to the dim light group on all scales, suggesting bright light therapy as an effective and safe add-on treatment for bipolar disorder. These findings provide robust evidence to back the efficacy of midday bright light therapy for bipolar depression.

Ensure recovery through early diagnosis

As such, the surest way to ensure quick recovery is an early diagnosis of the disorder. Since bipolar disorder is a treatable condition, it is important to seek medical help as soon as one suspects the onset of the symptoms, irrespective of the disorder. One should consult an expert and share his or her problems without any hesitation and fear. Any kind of delay in treatment will only exacerbate the symptoms.

If you or your beloved is suffering from any mental disorder, you can seek help from the Texas Mental Health Recovery Helpline to know more about mental disorder treatment in Texas. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-596-4708 or chat online with our representatives to know more about the best mental health recovery centers in Texas.

2 replies
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