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Chronobiology in Medicine 2019;1(1):3-8.
DOI:    Published online March 15, 2019.
Light Therapy in Mood Disorders: A Brief History with Physiological Insights
Jérémy Choukroun1  , Pierre Alexis Geoffroy2,3 
1GHU Sainte-Anne – Maison Blanche – Henri Ey, Neurosciences et Psychiatrie, Paris, Francea
2Université Paris Diderot, Sorbonne Paris Cité, Paris, France
3Department of Psychiatry and Addictive Medicine, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP), University Hospital Bichat-Claude Bernard, Paris, France
Correspondence:  Pierre Alexis Geoffroy, Tel: 33-1-40-25-82-62, 
Received: 28 December 2018   • Accepted: 1 February 2019
The mother of today’s Bright Light Therapy (BLT), Heliotherapy, has been the longest used form of phototherapy and the only one until the mid-nineteenth century. Sun therapies were applied in ancient Chinese, Hindu and Egyptian medicine over 15 centuries BC. Since the invention of the electric light bulb and the progress of medicine, heliotherapy shifted to: ultra-violet (UV) phototherapy, which is still used today in dermatology, immunology or neonatology; and to light therapy (UV filtered light) in the treatment of neurological, endocrinological and psychiatric affections. BLT is today the gold standard treatment of the Seasonal Affective Disorder, and is recommended in various others affective disorders. Recent findings as the Zeitgeber Theory involving the Central Biological Clock, and the implication of photo transductor melanopsin in the regulation of the circadian clock are guiding chrono-biologists to understand the physiological insights underlying BLT’s action on affective disorders. Those researches combined with ongoing clinical trials could guide us toward an optimal use in mood disorders of this millennial therapeutic resource.
Key Words: Phototherapy; Heliotherapy; Mood disorders; Seasonal affective disorder; Circadian clocks
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