Can Bright Light Therapy Help Those with Eating Disorders?
Eating disorders are serious psychological conditions where a disordered perspective of a healthy weight leads to unhealthy eating habits such as not eating at all (anorexia) or binge-eating and purging (bulimia).
While ongoing therapy, as well as medications to treat underlying mental conditions that can contribute to eating disorders, such as depression, have been proven effective in helping sufferers manage their conditions, many wonder if bright light therapy can help.
According to some studies, bright light therapy may help some eating disorder patients see a decrease in their disordered eating habits.
What Is Bright Light Therapy?
Bright light therapy is the practice of sitting under a bright light of 10,000 lux or more, for up to 30 minutes per day. You should sit under the light as close to your waking time as possible, so it’s recommended that you enjoy your morning coffee, read the paper, or catch up on social media while under the light.
This therapy has helped patients suffering from depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder, mood disorders, and insomnia find relief from their symptoms, especially during the cold winter months.
How Might Bright Light Therapy Help Patients with Eating Disorders?
In a study published in a 2001 issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 22 patients with both Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and bulimia received a four-week trial of bright light therapy. Sessions lasted between 30 minutes and one hour.
During the study, the number of binges among the subjects decreased by 46%, and the number of purge events decreased by 36%.
A total of 10 of the 22 subjects a complete remission of depressive symptoms, and two of those patients completely stopped their bingeing and purging behaviors.
A 2016 review of studies related to eating disorders and light therapy showed evidence that using light therapy in the treatment of eating disorders may be effective in decreasing the disordered eating behaviors.
Why Might Bright Therapy Work for Patients with Eating Disorders?
Bright light therapy helps regulate circadian rhythm – the normal sleep and waking cycle – for people who aren’t exposed to natural sunlight because of climate.
Many eating disorders are co-morbid with other mental health conditions, including sleep disorders, mood disorders, and depression. By improving the symptoms from the other conditions, the patient sees a decrease in the disordered eating behavior and overall health improvement.
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At the SunBox Company, we firmly believe in helping everyone reach their best potential. And for those suffering from mood disorders, sleep disorders, or eating disorders, bright light therapy can help decrease symptoms and improve feelings of health and wellness.