Open Access Open Badges Study protocol

Morning light therapy for juvenile depression and severe mood dysregulation: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial

Sarah Bogen1*, Tanja Legenbauer1, Thorsten Bogen1, Stephanie Gest1, Thomas Jensch1, Silvia Schneider2 and Martin Holtmann1

Author Affiliations

1 Hospital for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, LWL University Hospital of the Ruhr-University Bochum, Hamm, Germany

2 Department of Psychology, Ruhr-University Bochum, Bochum, Germany

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Trials 2013, 14:178  doi:10.1186/1745-6215-14-178

Published: 17 June 2013



The prevalence of depression in young people is increasing. The predominant co-morbidities of juvenile depression include sleep disturbances and persistent problems with the sleep-wake rhythm, which have shown to influence treatment outcomes negatively. Severe mood dysregulation is another condition that includes depressive symptoms and problems with the sleep-wake rhythm. Patients with severe mood dysregulation show symptoms of depression, reduced need for sleep, and disturbances in circadian functioning which negatively affect both disorder-specific symptoms and daytime functioning. One approach to treating both depression and problems with the sleep-wake rhythm is the use of light therapy. Light therapy is now a standard therapy for ameliorating symptoms of seasonal affective disorder and depression in adults, but has not yet been investigated in children and adolescents. In this trial, the effects of 2 weeks of morning bright-light therapy on juvenile depression and severe mood dysregulation will be evaluated.


A total of 60 patients with depression, aged between 12 and 18 years, in some cases presenting additional symptoms of affective dysregulation, will be included in this trial. Morning bright-light therapy will be implemented for 2 weeks (10 sessions of 45 minutes each), either with ‘active’ light (10,000 lux) or ‘inactive’ light (100 lux). A comprehensive test battery will be conducted before and after treatment and at follow-up 3 weeks later, to assess depression severity, sleep, and attention parameters. Melatonin levels will be measured by assessing the Dim Light Melatonin Onset.


In this pilot study, the use of morning bright-light therapy for juvenile depression and severe mood dysregulation shall be evaluated and discussed.

Trials registration

Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN89305231

Bright-light therapy; Depression; Adolescents; Sleep disturbances; Severe mood dysregulation