SAD lamps and bipolar

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Wiped Out, Nov 20, 2008.

  1. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Thought I'd share what I learned at difficult child's psychiatrist appointment yesterday.

    Our in home person suggested that we consider getting a SAD lamp due to the fact that difficult child often has a really bad period in January, February, March.

    Good thing I decided to mention it to the psychiatrist yesterday. He said although you would think that might help it doesn't. He said it has been shown to send bipolar people into mania! He told us not to get one!
  2. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Good thing you mentioned it! I will be interested to hear what others have to say.....

  3. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Sharon, I don't believe the answer is so cut-and-dried. Just as some medications send some kids with BiPolar (BP) into mania, I believe that light boxes send some kids into mania but work very well for other kids, especially those with a seasonal aspect to their depression. There are parents who swear that light boxes are very helpful in their children's treatment.
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2008
  4. goldenguru

    goldenguru Active Member

    I went to one of my data bases and did a quick review of the literature.

    Several of the studies did say that light therapy is counterindicated for Borderline (BPD) ESPECIALLY when they are manic.

    One study found some positive results with light therapy when combined with consistent cognitive behavioral therapy - which would make sense.

    It appears as though BLT works better for people with- SAD. Results are iffy for truly manic/depressive people.
  5. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Interesting- I had thought the lamp didn't provide all the advantages of natural sunlight but really never looked into it for mood stabilization. Maybe it makes a difference if there is just a depression issue or if there is a tendency to cycle.
  6. tessaturtle

    tessaturtle New Member

    Same here. Our difficult child always has a very difficult time during these dark, winter months. He usually winds up in the psychiatric hospital during these months. When is counselor at school, last year, suggested a lamp for SAD, we asked his medications prescriber and his therapist. THey both confirmed what you have heard, that they would not recommend it becuse the lamps have been known to trigger mania in bipolar patients. THe therapist even explained to us that it is VERY common for bipolar kids to become emotionally dysregulated during the winter months, and that it may look like SAD, but its not, its just part of the bipolar.

    THis year we will be combatting it with his participation in Karate (soccer seemed to help at the beginning of the school year) and the fact that his medications are the most stable they have EVER been.

    Good luck with yours :)
  7. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    We were told to try it by psychiatrist1 who had done studies with them. Another of our psychiatrist's who was not so great agreed as well.

    But a lot of it was due to where we lived and our situation. We lived in the NW which has a huge prevalence of SAD and seasonal issues. K was experiencing changes during the Seasonal changes.
    We were told and we read up on it, we did this with our therapist monitoring, she had worked with SAD studies in Seattle.
    We could not use it in the afternoon or evening. We used it right in the morning. Started for just a few minutes and progressed up from there.
    We only used it in during the *dark* months.
    We had to purchase a 10,000lux box. Which I believe measures the light... It was awhile ago... The box had to be large to have any benefit.
    The blue light was not recommended.

    It really helped husband and it helped K get started in her day. She used it on the dinning table when she was eating breakfast.

    Alaskan schools use these for a lot of the kids and a lot of countries with similar seasonal issues do as well.

    Doesn't work for everyone though and we were cautioned about using it when she was already amped and not to use it later than 8am for us.
  8. Jena

    Jena New Member


    I've heard of this also. I think it all depends on when you use it, to avoid the trigger of mania occuring. I have heard if used during "depressive episodes" it can do wonders. Amazing, huh..???

    Not a bad thing to look into it. It's amazing what can trigger certain chemicals in the brain.
  9. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    The link I posted in GG's thread on the PE board talked about light therapy combined with dark therapy for bipolar disorder. I didn't look any further, but it might be worth looking into.
  10. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I bought some bulbs for my bipolar friend. He also has SAD, so he makes it a point to sit in the sun, even next to a LR window, for part of ea day. After I'd spent all that $, it turns out that you are supposed to sit in front of a bank of lights for a cpl hrs a day during the darkest times of the winter. I don't know anyone who's going to sit still that long, unless it's prescribed therapy.
    Interesting idea about it worsening or provoking mania. Hadn't heard that b4.