Light therapy in bulimia nervosa: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study Academic Article uri icon

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  • The effects of light therapy on food intake and affective symptoms of bulimia nervosa (BN) were examined in a double-blind study. Eighteen women who met DSM-III-R criteria for BN were randomly assigned to receive either 2500 lux of bright light (experimental condition) or < 500 lux of dim light (placebo condition) daily in the early evening for a 1-week period. The Structured Interview Guide for the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale-Seasonal Affective Disorder Version (SIGH-SAD), the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), and the Bulimic Symptoms Checklist were administered to subjects before light exposure, after 1 week of light exposure, and after 7 days of withdrawal of light exposure. Throughout the study, the Profile of Mood States and the Daily Binge Record were completed daily. Compared with subjects in the dim light condition, subjects in the bright light condition showed a significant improvement in depressed mood during light exposure, as measured by both the BDI and the SIGH-SAD. There was a return to pretreatment levels of depression after withdrawal of light exposure. No changes in depression were noted in the placebo group. No effect of light therapy was found on the frequency, size, or content of binge-eating episodes. The results are discussed in terms of the physiological processes associated with light therapy and seasonal affective disorder that may underlie the affective and food intake symptoms of BN.


  • Blouin, Arthur G
  • Blouin, Jane H
  • Iversen, Hillary
  • Carter, Jacqueline
  • Goldstein, Cathy
  • Goldfield, Gary
  • Perez, Edgardo

publication date

  • February 1996