Reducing symptoms in women with chronic anorexia nervosa. A pilot study on the effects of bright light therapy.

OBJECTIVE: To examine the effect of bright light therapy on the sleep-wake rhythm, the menstrual cycle, mood, and key eating pathology symptoms in chronic anorexia nervosa.

METHODS: Five chronic anorectic women (mean duration of illness: 15.3 years) received 5 daily sessions of 30 minutes bright light therapy (10,000 LUX). Participants completed a diagnostic interview and questionnaires at pre-test, post-test and at a three month follow-up.

RESULTS: At follow up there was a slight improvement on core eating pathology, a fair decrease of depressive symptoms and an clinically important improvement on global distress.

CONCLUSIONS: Bright light therapy has on short term a positive effect on the physiological and psychological well being of chronic anorectic women. However, at follow-up the effects were partly lost. It is recommended to enhance the exposure period and repeat the treatment after 3 months.

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