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The Psychiatry of Light

Schwartz, Richard S. MD; Olds, Jacqueline MD

Harvard Review of Psychiatry:
doi: 10.1097/HRP.0000000000000078

Abstract: Bright light therapy and the broader realm of chronotherapy remain underappreciated and underutilized, despite their empirical support. Efficacy extends beyond seasonal affective disorder and includes nonseasonal depression and sleep disorders, with emerging evidence for a role in treating attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, delirium, and dementia. A practical overview is offered, including key aspects of underlying biology, indications for treatment, parameters of treatment, adverse effects, and transformation of our relationship to light and darkness in contemporary life.

Author Information

From Harvard Medical School; McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA (Dr. Schwartz); Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA (Dr. Olds).

Original manuscript received 15 September 2014, accepted for publication subject to revision 28 October 2014; revised manuscript received 12 November 2014.

Correspondence: Richard Schwartz, MD, 30 Hillside Ave., Cambridge, MA 02140. Email:

© 2015 President and Fellows of Harvard College

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