Can Light Therapy Cause Mania?

By Bob Jones Sep9,2022

The question: Can light therapy cause mania? has been a topic of debate for many years. While there are many benefits of light therapy, there are also some downsides. Let’s examine both these factors before making a final decision. For example, it is important to note that light therapy can cause mania. It is also important to know that light therapy can trigger depressive episodes in some patients.

Bright light therapy

There is a small risk that bright light therapy can cause mania in some people. The effects of bright light are usually positive, as they raise mood and increase energy. However, the effects of bright light can be harmful, as the therapy has been associated with heightened suicidal thoughts and at least one suicide. Therefore, it is important to discuss any risks with your doctor before you start bright light therapy.

It is important to note that patients with bipolar disorder should avoid bright light therapy in the middle of the day, as this can trigger a manic episode. However, light therapy early in the morning may trigger a manic phase in patients with bipolar disorder. During a study, researchers studied light therapy in bipolar patients and found that 68 percent of them benefited from bright light therapy, while only 22 percent benefited from placebo treatment.

One trial involving 46 participants with bipolar disorder and moderate depression who were on a mood stabilizer were randomly assigned to receive bright white light for 15 minutes a day, or a dim red light as a placebo. Both groups received treatments daily and the bright light therapy caused a significant change in mood.

Researchers are investigating whether bright light therapy can help with symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Bright light may also affect the production of serotonin in the skin, a substance found in the brain. If light therapy helps reduce symptoms of SAD, it may also be able to treat the bipolar disorder.

A light box that emits 10,000 lux can be an effective treatment for mania. These light boxes are safer than homemade devices because they are commercially manufactured and have better safety features. These light boxes often have screens that block ultraviolet rays. Moreover, they can also reduce electrical hazards.

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Despite its widespread use, researchers are unsure of the side effects of bright light therapy. There are limited studies on the subject. Researchers have yet to determine which patients will respond better to bright light than others. The bright light therapy should be used alongside standard antimanic pharmacotherapy for at least a month before any other treatment is started.

Side effects

The use of light therapy to treat mania may be accompanied by side effects. Patients with mania may experience an increase in irritability, agitation, and rapid speech. Symptoms of mania, also known as hypomania, can also include a lack of concentration and impulsive behaviors. The use of bright light during the morning may help reduce these symptoms.

While it is possible to reduce the frequency of these symptoms, light therapy is not a cure for mania. It can lead to side effects including eye-strain, agitation, and headaches. For this reason, light therapy should be titrated up slowly. For example, a patient should begin by exposing themselves to five minutes of bright light on day one, and increase by five minutes each day until the recommended time of 30 minutes per day is reached.

In a recent study, researchers studied the effects of light therapy on bipolar disorder patients. Results showed that this treatment was effective for reducing symptoms of mania. It reduced relapse and response rates in 57% of patients. However, patients also experienced mild side effects. In one study, two patients had two hypomanic periods, although these were mild. Overall, light therapy appears to be a promising treatment option for bipolar patients.

In addition to treating mania, light therapy is effective for treating depression. Studies have shown that it can reduce depressive symptoms in a variety of people, including those with seasonal affective disorder. However, studies are needed to determine the optimal dosage. Some studies have shown that light therapy can cause some side effects.

Moreover, a recent study evaluated the effects of light therapy on depressive symptoms in bipolar disorder. It also looked at the risk of a (hypo)manic state. Treatment results were monitored over a period of two years. Researchers collected data from a clinic for bipolar disorder in Eindhoven, Netherlands.

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Several studies have examined the effectiveness of light therapy for mania. However, they are not all consistent. Some studies use different definitions of mania. For example, one study measured the rate of mania after receiving light therapy in the morning, while another measured mania after light therapy was stopped.

Researchers have looked at light therapy for seasonal affective disorder (SAD) patients and those without seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This therapy has been used to treat seasonal affective disorder since the 1980s. Rosenthal published the first study about its effectiveness in 1984. Since then, researchers have been focusing on improving the treatment for specific groups of patients. Until now, light therapy was not used on bipolar disorder patients because they were afraid that the therapy would cause them to enter a (hypo)manic state.

One limitation of this study was that the sample size was small and raters were not blind. Additionally, only 55% of patients participated in the follow-up measurement, which means that results must be interpreted carefully. Furthermore, the compliance of patients with the lamps was not assessed, which may have led to an underestimation of the therapy’s effectiveness.

A recent meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials conducted at Northwestern University has found that bright light therapy may be an effective treatment for recurrent mood episodes in bipolar disorder. The study found that the treatment is effective for a variety of bipolar disorders, including mania. One such study involved 46 participants with moderate bipolar depression. Half of them received bright light therapy while the other half received a dim red placebo. In both groups, participants continued to take regular medication. However, the patients in the placebo group were not encouraged to read about the treatment or discuss its appearance.

The study also found that the light therapy protocol may be effective for treating depressive symptoms during autumn/winter. Further research is needed to determine whether it is also effective during the spring and summer seasons.


One study evaluated the safety of light therapy for mania. In the study, the incidence of switching from depressive to manic states was less than 3%, which is much lower than the risk with many other treatments. Nonetheless, more research is needed to assess the optimal frequency and intensity of light therapy for mania.

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In the present study, researchers reviewed 41 published reports that compared the effects of light therapy on bipolar depression and mania. The samples were stratified based on the method used to detect treatment-emergent switches from depression to mania. The researchers found that light therapy was safe for patients with bipolar depression, but it might not be safe for patients with mania or rapid-cycling bipolar disorder.

The effects of light therapy on bipolar patients are still controversial. While many researchers believe that the treatment is effective in reducing the incidence of bipolar disorder, there are concerns about its safety. Among these, a meta-analysis published in the March issue of Psychiatry Research suggests that the risks of switching into mania and hypomania were similar to those among patients taking placebo medication.

Although light therapy may have a positive impact on a patient’s mood, it is best used in conjunction with medication to minimize the potential side effects. In addition, the study did not control the duration of light exposure. Patients who have a sleep disorder should avoid dark therapy. Because sleep deprivation worsens manic symptoms, it is important to use light therapy in conjunction with a mood stabilizer.

One study found that light therapy was effective in reducing depressive symptoms for up to two weeks after treatment. Further studies are needed to determine which patients are most likely to benefit from light therapy for bipolar disorder. The next step is a randomized controlled trial to determine the effects and safety of light therapy.


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