Light therapy is often used to treat sleep disorders or seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
In light therapy, a person is exposed to an artificial bright light, usually for about 30 minutes per day. There have been a few studies of light therapy for PMDD.
In one study, women with PMDD who received bright light therapy for one week had more than a 50% reduction in depressive symptom ratings, including irritability. In another study, light therapy significantly reduced depression and premenstrual tension scores in the luteal phase among women with PMDD. A comparison dim red light placebo condition did not reduce premenstrual mood symptoms.
While these data suggest that light therapy might be helpful for PMDD, these studies were very small, and larger studies are needed.
It is best to talk with your healthcare provider about light therapy. Light therapy does include some risks, such as headache, eye strain, changes in the sleep-wake cycle, or worsening of symptoms in individuals with bipolar disorder.
Dr. Liisa Hantsoo, IAPMD Clinical Advisory Board