Bipolar disorder, or bipolar depression, may lead to early death. It is a mental condition characterized by alternating mania and depression, usually interspersed with normal mood. And, it also may include psychosis. Because of the alternating moods, bipolar disorder was previously called manic-depressive illness. The word “manic” means excessive activity, euphoric mood, and impaired judgement.
Bipolar disorder affects about 5.7 million adult Americans, and one in 5 people who have the condition commits suicide. Furthermore, the U.S. has the highest bipolar rate in the world. Bipolar disorder is also the sixth leading cause of disability in the world. In addition, it results in a 9.2-year reduction in the expected life span.
New (and very exciting) research demonstrates that bright-light therapy has a profound and positive influence on this disease. The researchers conducted a 6-week program to investigate the value of bright light therapy at midday for bipolar depression. The study participants were chosen from depressed adults who were receiving stable dosages of anti-manic medication. The subjects were randomly assigned to treatment in one of two groups: the bright-white light (7,000 lux) group or dim-red light (50 lux) group.
At the end of the six-week period, 68% of the bright-light group went into remission of their bipolar problems, compared with 15% of the dim-light group. This is a most noteworthy result.
The study provides transcendently important information for those who suffer from this debilitating mental disorder. Therefore, the researchers summarized their findings thusly: “The data from this study provide robust evidence that supports the efficacy of midday bright light therapy for bipolar depression.”
The mechanism by which bright-light therapy performs its anti-depressive miracles is probably through production of serotonin in the brain. When we are surrounded by bright light, the light enters the eye and stimulates the brain to produce serotonin. Serotonin is the master mood enhancer, and anti-depressant drugs work by manipulating serotonin. Hence, these drugs are called selective serotonin uptake inhibitors (SSRI). However, SSRI often have serious, sometimes deadly, side effects. We should therefore obtain our serotonin naturally, through regular sun exposure. Why? Because serotonin can be increased by as much as 800% by spending a day in the sunlight. What a marvelously simple therapy bright light is. And what is the easiest way to obtain it? Go outside during the day, for goodness sake!
It is not necessary to go outside at midday. Any time of day, when the sun is shining brightly, should work very well. However, we should never look directly at the sun. That may cause eye damage. Sufficient light enters just by being outside.
In conclusion: Safely embrace the sunlight whenever possible, and remove the risk of bipolar disorder.
 Amanda Gardner. U.S. has highest bipolar rate in 11-nation study. Heath.com. March 7, 2011. http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/03/07/US.highest.bipolar.rates/
 Bipolar Disorder Statistics. BDS Alliance. http://www.dbsalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=education_statistics_bipolar_disorder.
 Sit DK, McGowan J, Wiltrout C, Diler RS, Dills JJ, Luther J, Yang A, Ciolino JD, Seltman H, Wisniewski SR, Terman M, Wisner KL. Adjunctive Bright Light Therapy for Bipolar Depression: A Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trial. Am J Psychiatry. 2017 Oct 3: [Epub ahead of print].
 Lambert GW, Reid C, Kaye DM, Jennings GL, Esler MD. Effect of sun and season on serotonin turnover in the brain. Lancet. 2002 Dec 7;360(9348):1840-2.
By Marc Sorenson, EdD. Sunlight Institute…
At a meeting of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology, a most interesting research report has emerged. The summary reads thusly: Exposure to bright light increases testosterone levels and leads to greater sexual satisfaction in men with low sexual desire. These are the results of a pilot randomised placebo-controlled trial.[i]
Men with low sexual desire were put in two groups; one group received bright light therapy from a light box; the other was treated with a light box that was not nearly so bright. Testosterone levels were measured in both groups. The experiment lasted two weeks, and the results were impressive. The men who had received the bright light therapy increased their sexual satisfaction scores increased by 300%. Testosterone levels also increased by 300% in the bright light group. The researchers believe that bright light therapy might have fewer side effects than drugs and offer at least equal results.
These results should not have been surprising. Long ago, light treatments were shown to remarkably increase testosterone levels. In 1939, Dr. Abraham Myerson measured initial levels of circulating testosterone in men and exposed their various body parts to UV.[ii] After five days of chest exposure sufficient to cause reddening, circulating testosterone increased by 120%. After eight days without additional UV exposure, testosterone returned to initial levels. When the genital area was exposed, testosterone levels increased by 200%! Considering our sex-obsessed society, it is surprising that no studies followed up on Myerson’s work. Testosterone, after all, is important in sexual behavior, since it is the “love” hormone for both sexes.
If this information reaches the public, the interest in sunbathing may increase. That would be terrific, because sun exposure would also profoundly enhance the health of those who were soaking up the sun.
Is there anything that sun exposure can’t do? Just be careful not to burn in the sun.
[ii] Myerson, A. Influence of ultraviolet radiation on excretion of sex hormones in the male. Endocrinology 1939;25:7-12.
By Marc Sorenson, EdD, Sunlight Institute…
A recent press release from the Vitamin D Society of Canada discusses the need for vitamin D in the winter, in order to reduce the risk and intensity of seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. SAD is a feeling of low motivation, depressed mood, decreased concentration, anxiety and despair.
Dr. Samantha Kimball, the scientific advisor for the Society, has found that increasing vitamin D intake can help reduce the symptoms of SAD. She mentions that vitamin D, which is generated in the body by sunlight exposure, can modulate the immune system and reduce inflammation, thereby reducing the risk of depression.
Dr. Kimball is correct; the change can be absolutely dramatic based on serum vitamin D levels. One remarkable piece of research showed that those persons who had the lowest levels of D had almost 12 times as likely to be depressed as those who had the highest levels.
Although I fully agree with Dr. Kimball, I can’t help but wish she had mentioned more on the benefits of the sunlight or even sunlamps, which are the most natural ways to increase vitamin D, but are also marvelously effective in improving mood beyond vitamin D.
In addition to vitamin D, there is a chemical produced by the brain in response to sunlight exposure to the eyes. It is called serotonin and is a natural “upper” or mood enhancer. It is also a neurotransmitter and is available to us from bright light entering the eyes. Even is Canada in winter, when there is no vitamin-D stimulating potential in sunlight, just being outdoors when there is sunshine will work to improve or prevent SAD. Sunlight can dramatically increase serotonin levels in the brain.
Dr. Gavin Lambert and his colleagues in Australia measured serotonin levels in response to varying degrees of bright light. To do this, they drew blood samples from the internal jugular veins of 101 men and compared the serotonin concentration of the blood to weather conditions and seasons. The results were remarkable: Men who were measured on a very bright day produced eight times more serotonin than those who were measured on a cloudy, dismal day. They also observed that the effect of bright light was immediate, and that there was no holdover from day to day. Serotonin levels were also seven times higher in summer than winter. There we have another answer to SAD. When the sun is shining, wherever you are, take advantage of it. It will elevate your mood and make you feel more alive. And remember that tanning beds and other types of sunlight do a great job of increasing your vitamin D when the sun doesn’t shine. Finally, bright, full-spectrum lighting will also enhance your mood. Merry Christmas and HAPPY Holidays!
Click this link to read the Vitamin D Society press release: http://www.vitamindsociety.org/press_release.php?id=39
 Wilkins CH, Sheline YI, Roe CM, Birge SJ, Morris JC. Vitamin D Deficiency Is Associated With Low Mood and Worse Cognitive Performance in Older Adults. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry 2006;14:1032–1040).
 Lambert GW, Reid C, Kaye DM, Jennings GL, Esler MD. Effect of sunlight and season on serotonin turnover in the brain. Lancet. 2002 Dec 7;360(9348):1840-2.