Any treatment for the depressive phase in a person with bipolar disorder must be managed closely due to the risk of triggering a manic episode. This is true with anti-depressant medication treatment of bipolar disorder as well as when Bright Light Therapy is the depression treatment tool. A common treatment for a bipolar condition includes prescribing a mood stabilizer such as lithium to prevent manic episodes. The person is then prescribed anti-depressants to use when their depression becomes problematic.
Because of the risk of anti-depressant medications triggering a manic episode in a person with bipolar disorder, their use must be closely managed. However, many SSRI anti-depressants require gradual reduction of doses rather than abrupt stopping to avoid a withdrawal-type reaction. In addition, anti-depressant medications are stored in fat cells in our body and gradually work their way out of our systems over two or more weeks.
Conversely, using Bright Light Therapy to address the depression concerns allows more control of dosing and immediate halting of the intervention should a person sense they are moving toward a manic phase. This can result in preventing a manic episode that otherwise might result. In addition, many people with bipolar disorder come to an understanding of their condition and their needs to maintain stability. Although taking 1/2 or even 1/4 of an anti-depressant dose is an option, adjusting the dosing of LT is much more flexible providing near-infinite adjustments. A summary of a University of Pittsburgh bipolar study can be read at: bipolar study