Does bright light have an anxiolytic effect? - an open trial

Youngstedt, Shawn D.; Kripke, Daniel F.
January 2007
BMC Psychiatry;2007, Vol. 7, p62
Academic Journal
Background: The aim of this open trial was to examine the influence of acute bright light exposure on anxiety in older and young adults. Methods: This study was ancillary to a complex 5-day laboratory experiment testing phase-responses to light at all times of the day. On 3 consecutive days, participants were exposed to bright light (3,000 lux) for 3 hours. The Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (Form Y1) was administered 5 minutes before and 20 minutes after each treatment. Mean state anxiety before and after treatment were analyzed by age, sex, and time ANOVA. To avoid floor effects, only participants with baseline STAI levels of ≥ 25 were included. Results: A significant anxiolytic effect of bright light was found for the mean data, as well as for each of the three days. No significant main effect of age, sex, or interaction of these factors with STAI change were found. Conclusion: The results show consistent and significant (albeit modest) anxiolytic effects following acute bright light exposure in low anxiety adults. Further randomized, controlled trials in clinically anxious individuals are needed.


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