Shedding Light on Adults with ADHD
Light therapy has proven its worth in the treatment of seasonal affective disorder, the kind of depression that worsens, typically, as sunshine fades in the fall of the year. It’s a new idea to try light therapy for ADHD.
Some Canadian clinical researchers did that, with results that are heartening for adults with ADHD. After careful screening, twenty- nine adults with ADHD received a standard 3-week trial of light therapy. For twenty minutes each morning, they sat in front of a lightbox that emitted 10,000 lux at a distance of 24 inches.
The light therapy was helpful. It resulted in significant changes on the ADHD rating scales and other clinical assessments. In particular, patients were better able to stay focussed and attentive. Hyperactive symptoms were not altered. Not surprisingly, several of the patients had better mood after the light therapy. However, the researchers determined that the improvement in the ADHD scores was not just the result of better mood; it seemed a genuine change.
Many adults with ADHD tend to be “night owls,” strongly preferring the evening as their time of major activity. That causes them problems in a world which, by and large, prefers the morning for maximum output. An interesting shift was that the ADHD patients taking light therapy tended to shift to greater “morningness” as a result of the treatment.