THE DARK SIDE OF LIGHT TREATMENT FOR SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER

International Journal of Risk & Safety in Medicine (1998) January 1, 1998

Y. Meesters, and M.C. Letsch

Abstract

Light Treatment is the most effective therapy for sufferers from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), the winter type. Although side effects and risks are rare, the therapist should be aware of them, and of the contraindications to such therapy which have been advanced.

Conclusions

Light treatment is without any doubt the treatment of first choice for SAD patients. It is elegant, usually very effective and most patients experience no serious complications. However, some very rare but serious complications can occur, involving either the eyes or the state of mind, and certain contraindications need to be respected. It is desirable, though not always feasible, to carry out ophthalmologic screening before starting light treatment, and it seems possible that some forms of medication may potentiate the adverse effects. For such reasons, and certainly during the first winter seasons of treatment, light therapy should only be offered to SAD patients under the supervision of qualified personnel.

© 1998 IOS Press. All rights reserved.